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  • Lale Hanalp

Ukraine War

Ukraine is in need of tanks and Zelensky is growing impatient with the west as he says "Hundreds of thank yous are not hundreds of tanks." He has called on the West to provide the German-made tanks which they say will help them defeat Russia.

Although Western nations invested billions in other weapons, Ukraine was not satisfied with the outcome because Germany had not committed to providing tanks. This demonstrates the West's dedication to assisting Ukraine, but is this enough? Ukraine still needs tanks, especially Western ones, since, in the words of a Ukrainian defense official, "we'll be stranded here." These [Western tanks] are necessary to halt Russia's invasion. We'll win with infantry and tanks protecting us, for sure. As US President Joe Biden and the leaders of the Group of Seven will meet virtually on Tuesday to discuss their commitment to supporting Ukraine, the US is stepping up its efforts in this area, according to the White House. This week, the US promised additional funding totaling more than $2.5 billion (£2 billion), including armored vehicles. The Russian missile strikes in Ukraine were denounced by Biden, who said that these assaults "only strengthen our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes." 

Now let's explore how the West's "indecision" over sending extra weapons to Ukraine is "killing more of our people." The UK has already announced it will send 14 Challenger 2 battle tanks. But Kyiv wants more tanks, and UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he hoped that the 50 allies would "all hear the message that unlocking the tank is part of 2023." "It is clear that Ukraine is in need of tanks; to be able to defend Ukrainian land, it means to be able to de-occupy their land and liberate their territories, and for this they need heavy tanks as well as armored vehicles." After Friday's meeting of 54 countries at Ramstein Air Base, Western countries have committed billions in other weaponry. The US has so far refused to supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, or allow their transfer by third-party countries. This means a crucial element of Ukraines success is yet to be reached due to the US’s unwillingness to supply jets in order to strengthen their Air Force. It seems as if the west is focused on providing weapons for the front line, but they need to redefine what it means to stand with Ukraine—and that it does not simply mean stabilising Ukraine's front line.

Germany is under pressure to provide its Leopard 2 armored vehicles. According to German legislation, before nations like Poland or Finland agreed to commit to re-exporting them, the government in Berlin would need to provide its approval. Mariusz Blaszczak, the defense minister of Poland, expressed optimism that efforts to form a coalition in favor of Ukraine would be successful. Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday the government would request authorisation from Berlin. However, he said Poland would send the tanks to Ukraine, even if it was not granted. This could potentially cause tensions between Poland and Berlin as the decision to send tanks in Ukraine's defense is not taken lightly. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin denied that Berlin was waiting for the US to make the first move. "This notion of unlocking - in my mind it's not an issue," he said after Friday's meeting of 54 countries at Ramstein Air Base. 

Furthermore, not only are Ukraine preoccupied with the lack of tanks but the UK is disagreeing within itself. The British Army is concerned that the RAF and Royal Navy are not pulling their weight in providing support for Ukraine. They are worried they've taken on a "lion's share" of equipping Ukraine with the war against Russia. It alleges that senior defense sources believe other parts of the British military,such as the RAF and Royal Navy, should be doing more. Reports state that the Army thinks its latest donation of 14 British Challenger II tanks is another example of it taking on a greater share, poised to train Ukrainians in how to operate them. Sources reportedly think other parts of the military need to help shoulder the burden. However, there are sources that support the lack of support as they said "tanks are how you break through lines' ' - while others claimed jets are simply "not the priority now". As for the fleet, it is recalled that the British military have been teaching Ukrainian marines how to operate Sandown-class minehunter vessels which Defense Express covered in a separate article. But the problem is, Turkiye may deny the UK-donated vessels access through the Bosphorus Strait, a British Navy source worries.

On the part of Defense Express, it has been realised that it might be too soon to expect Great Britain to consider sending fighters or battleships to Ukraine any soon. Especially since the RAF uses F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon, while Ukraine sees American F-16 as an optimal reinforcement to their Air Force . However, as previously seen the US do not seem willing to send airforce, limiting the West’s involvement and potential success of Ukraine.

Still, we should take note of the progress in the question of providing fighters to Ukraine which is being revived in more countries while it was an unspoken taboo just a few months ago. 

Considering the strengths and weaknesses of Western defense and ability to supply weapons to ukraine it can be said that the West are being nothing short of helpful, it is not possible to measure the predicament of ukraine without the support of the west but it is safe to assume they have made the future more foreseeable. 

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