Sunday Times: Tanks alone are NOT enough
The Sunday Times published an article by the researcher on Russian affairs, Mark Galeotti, about the war in Ukraine and how it might be affected after the response of the Western allies to Kyiv’s request to provide it with German Leopard tanks.
Galeotti noted in his article that Ukraine is preparing to obtain 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks, with the possibility of obtaining more of this type of tanks from other European countries after Berlin lifted the ban on re-exporting them.
This is in addition to the 14 Challenger 2 tanks pledged by the United Kingdom, and 31 M1 Abrams tanks that the United States agreed to send to Ukraine.
Galeotti believed that these Western tanks are capable of bringing about a qualitative change in the military capabilities of Ukraine, which has so far relied on tanks dating back to the Soviet era.
However, the author of the article notes that the arrival of these tanks in Ukraine does not necessarily mean that the latter will be able to achieve a quick or certain victory. It is more complicated than that.
Galeotti believe that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is involved in a military conflict with Moscow on the one hand, and in a diplomatic conflict with the West on the other.
Zelensky recently sacked a number of senior officials in his country in a crackdown on corruption, in an attempt to reassure Western allies worried about the lack of progress on internal anti-corruption reforms they see as badly needed by Ukraine.
At the same time, Zelensky is looking for tangible progress in his war with Russia, in order to secure the support of Western allies for his forces in that war.
For months, Ukraine has been appealing to its Western allies with about 300 tanks in order to be able to remove Putin’s forces from its territory.
The Ukrainians’ appeals to obtain Western tanks didn’t come out of nowhere.
They believe in a pivotal role for these tanks in the coming months of the war.
The Ukrainians are preparing for a Russian attack next spring, for which Moscow is preparing by calling up about 150,000 reservists from all over Russia.
In addition, the new commander of the Russian army, Valery Gerasimov, is primarily an officer in the armored corps.
Although Russia has lost about 1,500 tanks so far in this war, it still has a similar number ready for use.
It’s not more appropriate than a tank to confront a tank like it, according to the author, who points out that the Russians usually sacrifice the element of sustainability in their designs for armored vehicles for the sake of the two elements of speed and destructive ability, although it cannot be said that their armored vehicles are considered easy targets.
The most advanced Western tanks are a strong opponent for the tanks of the new Russian General Gerasimov.
However, that isn’t all there is to it.
It’s no secret that the Ukrainians are also preparing for an offensive in the spring with about 5,000 soldiers forming a mechanized brigade equipped with advanced Western equipment.
With this brigade, the Ukrainians aim to penetrate Russia’s impenetrable defensive lines and threaten its strategic targets – including cities in the Donbas region, or an attempt to cut off that land bridge linking Russia and the Crimea peninsula via Mariupol.
Galeotti believes that while Moscow is looking forward to achieving victories, it’s betting on time and bringing the situation to a state of stalemate.
It is likely that Moscow, in order to achieve its goal, will prevent Kyiv from achieving any tangible progress on the battle fronts, in a way that the Western allies see that there is no point in continuing the war in light of the stalemate of the situation due to the invulnerability of the Russian defensive lines.
Kyiv, and after obtaining the Western tanks, needs to strike as hard as it can to achieve victories on the ground, according to Galeotti.
And if the Ukrainians manage to achieve tangible progress, especially cutting off the land bridge between Russia and Crimea, then Putin won’t be able to believe that time is on his side.
Galeotti concluded by saying that next spring is likely to witness an intensification in the rhythm and ferocity of the war, especially if Ukraine uses Western tanks in a timely manner, which will outweigh its balance in terms of equipment.
In the end, however, war is more about will than hardware.