Brussels, Riga, Berlin In the past few days there has been a question about the supply of main battle tanks to the Ukraine boiled up. According to the debate, it seems to depend on exports whether Kiev’s armed forces will face each other Russia can claim or not. The discussion focuses on Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who is hesitant to hand over Leopard 2 tanks.
The vehicle is one of the most powerful main battle tanks in the world and is available in large numbers, as it is available in many Nato-States is one of the standard weapons of land armies. According to high-ranking military officials, the Leopard 2 would not necessarily turn the tide in the war.
Rather, many factors are decisive for its further course. From the point of view of the German military, the training of the armed forces is very important. Should Ukraine receive Leopard tanks, soldiers would need to be trained on the weapon.
According to military circles, the Leopard is really effective in combination with armored personnel carriers, howitzers, air defense systems and infantrymen. Each weapon’s weakness is offset by the strength of others. This network is now being supplemented with drones, which are used for reconnaissance. This is also an experience from the Ukraine war.
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Images of battle tanks, rolling or shot to pieces, can often be seen in social and classic media, but so far the warring parties have allowed these vehicles to fight as a group. A leopard can’t really exploit the actual advantage with this.
Nevertheless, the Ukraine war represents a turning point for this type of weapon. Until the invasion in February last year, main battle tanks were considered too cumbersome for modern wars such as those recently waged in Afghanistan. Some Nato-States like Poland or Hungary are buying new main battle tanks; Germany and France also want to equip their armed forces with a successor that is currently being developed.
Internet from space
In addition to the main battle tank and drones, Kyiv is also receiving an aid that is important but least visible: fail-safe Internet connections. It was the US billionaire Elon Muskwhich provided the Ukrainians with the services of its Starlink satellite network at the beginning of the war.
Starlink allows Ukrainian soldiers to keep in touch with their commanders even on remote sections of the frontline and to exchange target data for drone attacks. Attempts by the Russians to interrupt the Starlink signal have failed. The American military expert Trent Telenko calls the Ukraine war the “first Starlink war”.
But in the meantime there is a discussion about whether it is justifiable to leave such a critical infrastructure in private hands – which also has to do with Musk as a person. In the fall, the billionaire launched a “peace plan” for Ukraine that was closely aligned with the Kremlin’s war goals. At the World Cup final, Musk had one with his girlfriend Putin– Photograph confidants. The search for a Starlink alternative is therefore already underway.
Under the impact of the Ukraine war, the EU Commission has accelerated its work on the “Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection & Security by Satellites”, or Iris 2 for short. Behind it lies what is known in space travel as a “mega-constellation” – a network of hundreds of satellites that should be operational by 2024. 2.4 billion euros are available for this.
The project “underlines Europe’s role as a true force in space,” says Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. “Our space technologies have become strategic capabilities for our citizens, for the resilience of our economies, and of course for our armies.”
Logistics also important
The Ukraine war once again proves the importance of logistics. One of the truisms of the military is that only those who can supply their fighting troops with supplies will ultimately be successful.
The Russians experienced the role themselves during World War II. Just because the USA By providing Moscow with several hundred thousand trucks, Russia was able to supply its troops with ammunition, food, medicine and supplies.
The offensive power of the Russians came to a standstill in the first days of the war in February because only a few roads were usable for them. On the route between Belarus and Kyiv, traffic was backed up for dozens of kilometers, which is one of the reasons why Russia had to give up taking the Ukrainian capital.
For its part, Ukraine can supply its armed forces in the east of the country via a widely ramified rail network. Deliveries of weapons, fuel and other goods also come via the western neighbors.
If Ukraine receives up to 300 main battle tanks from Western partners, as President Volodymyr Zelensky did, then the logistics will also be important, according to high-ranking military officials. The vehicles have to be serviced and supplied with spare parts, especially in combat. In addition, there is ammunition and fuel, which take on a considerable volume in terms of the number of pieces.
In order to keep the effort as low as possible, the suggestions are to keep the variety of models low. The US M1 Abrams main battle tank is considered too complex because it requires a lot of maintenance. It needs a different fuel, which makes it less compatible with other main battle tanks.
The preferred choice for the USA and some European NATO countries would therefore be the Leopard 2, which is robust and available in sufficient numbers. The number of available tank variants would be lower, said a military.