WASHINGTON — The united states and Germany have reportedly decided to provide Ukraine with state-of-the-art main battle tanks, weapons that could seriously alter the balance of power on the battlefield as the Ukraine struggles to repel a Russian invasion.
While the united states and Germany pledge to supply tanks to Ukraine, other European NATO countries, more than a dozen of which use the modern German Leopard 2 tank, will also be able to transfer heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Experts told VOA that if Ukraine could deploy a significant number of modern tanks, it could have a big impact on its efforts to expel Russian troops from around 20% of its territory, which remains occupied nearly a quarter. year after Russia launched a full-scale deployment. invasion.
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The Leopard 2 tank first entered service in 1979 and has since been upgraded several times. Its main gun fires extremely powerful 120mm projectiles. In addition, two 7.62 mm machine guns are mounted on it.
The “M1 Abrams” tank is somewhat newer and equipped with similar weapons. It is also heavier than the Leopard 2 and has more modern armor.
Russian troops have built strong defensive positions designed to limit Ukraine‘s ability to maneuver around them.
Center for a New American Security Defense Program Fellow Andrew Metrick told VOA that tanks could help solve this problem.
“We are talking about restoring the ability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to operational maneuver,” he said. “It’s about building a force that can break through fortified Russian positions and allow them to use superior firepower and mobility to crush Russian forces.”
John Spencer, head of urban warfare research at the Madison Policy Forum, told VOA that for Ukraine to dislodge Russia from these positions, it will need a combined arms effort, involving infantry coordination. , artillery, air support and, above all, , everything, tanks.
“Without main battle tanks, and there should be plenty of them, Ukraine is very limited in its ability to attack the defensive positions that the Russian side is creating everywhere,” he said.
Spencer, who served as a tank unit commander in the US Army during the Iraq War, said that although Ukraine has other armored vehicles, including US-made Bradley Fighting Vehicles, they do not have the same capabilities as a main battle tank.
“The Bradleys have thinner armor and much less firepower,” he said. “He can’t break through the defensive lines. Tanks were created to fight their way through defensive lines.”
But Madison Policy Forum’s Spencer told VOA that to have a real impact on the course of the war, Ukraine needs to get hundreds of main battle tanks, along with the necessary support.
It is not yet known how many tanks of each type will actually end up in Ukraine.