This year marks the 80th anniversary of the largest tank battle in history, which involved 1,600 tanks, and had a decisive impact on the course of World War 2. On 5 July 1943 Nazi Germany launched Operation Zitadelle, its last summer offensive on the Eastern Front. Hitler felt Army Group South could win this battle due to the massive hopes he placed on his new ‘wonder weapons’:  the Panther and Tiger tanks. Hitler’s confidence was misplaced as these new powerful weapons failed to bring him the victory he desired. Instead, the German army went down to a decisive defeat which as Churchill observed, ‘marked the ruin of Germany on the Eastern Front.’

Here we are 80 years later and the Western media are drooling over the prospect of German Leopard 2 tanks being sent to fight Russian forces in Ukraine. Apparently, they will help it deal a ‘decisive blow’ to the Russian army during 2023. This narrative is exemplified by an article by Business Insider on 20 January 2023 which commented, Leopard 2s are  “formidable main battle tanks [that] would provide a massive firepower boost on the battlefield.”

Two days ago the German government caved in to enormous pressure from its NATO allies and agreed to send 14 of these ‘wonder weapons’ to Ukraine which will take 3-4 months to deliver.  Berlin gave permission for its NATO allies to export their Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev. According to Luxemberg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, NATO members intend to send around 300 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine over the next few months. Apparently, the goal is to have them in place before Russia launches a major offensive this spring.

NATO At “War With Russia” As Western Main Battle Tanks Are Sent To Ukraine To Enable It To “Win This War”

ABC news has reported the preliminary numbers of Leopard 2 tanks to be sent by European NATO members to Ukraine amount to 111. The breakdown by donor country is below:

  • Germany will give 14 Leopard 2A6 models
  • Poland will give 14 Leopard 2s
  • Holland will give 18 Leopard 2s
  • Portugal will give 4 Leopard 2A6 models
  • Spain plans to send 53 Leopard 2s
  • Norway plans to give 8 Leopard 2
  • Finland and Sweden have expressed their readiness to send tanks but have not specified a number

On top of this President Biden has announced the transfer of 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine which will take several months to deliver.

War hawks in the US Congress and in governments across European NATO are insistent that deliveries of tanks and other heavy weapons will be maintained and increased to help Ukraine “win this war.’’

The Russian government’s response was predictably hostile considering this major escalation of NATO aid for Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said the deployment of Western tanks would lead to  “unambiguously negative” consequences. Andrey Kartapolov, head of the State Duma Defence Committee dismissed the supplies of Western main battle tanks to Ukraine in an interview on 25 January on the Russsia-24 TV channel:

“The Leopard tanks are not bad; but I would say they are more effective than the Abrams in many characteristics. But nevertheless, if compared to our T-90s, they are significantly inferior in firepower and armour protection, including its active component.’’

He also added that Russian tanks and their crews have been tested under battle field conditions and shown themselves “from the best side.”

NATO At “War With Russia” As Western Main Battle Tanks Are Sent To Ukraine To Enable It To “Win This War”

The Western media and politicians are bragging over this latest escalation of NATO’s proxy war with Russia. However, Western main battle tanks in Ukraine will face a number of obstacles and difficulties.

The first issue that that will have to be dealt with is training Ukrainian tanks crews for the different kinds of tanks sent by NATO from Challenger 2s to Leopard 2s and M1 Abrams tanks. Most estimates agree that this will take several months just to produce entry level tankers who have mastered the basics of tank operation.

Given Russia’s activation of offensives on several fronts which is leading to very heavy losses in men and equipment for Ukraine these ‘wonder weapons’ may well arrive too late make any difference on the battlefield. Ukraine has recently lost the fortified city of Soledar while the Russian offensive against Bakmut has left this strategically important city very close to operational encirclement and facing capture in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Russian forces are advancing in the city of Ugledar and are making progress in their offensive in the Zaporozhye region where they have crossed the Yancher river and entered Kamyanske which is an important transport hub.

NATO At “War With Russia” As Western Main Battle Tanks Are Sent To Ukraine To Enable It To “Win This War”

The next factor to consider is the all important matter of logistics to support these main battle tanks. Yesterday AP carried a piece on the US pledge to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. It noted the many difficulties the Ukrainian army will face operating these tanks:

“Just last week, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told reporters that the Abrams is a complicated, expensive, difficult to maintain and hard to train on piece of equipment. One thing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been very focused on, he said, “is that we should not be providing the Ukrainians systems they can’t repair, they can’t sustain, and that they, over the long term, can’t afford, because it’s not helpful.”

At this point I could wax lyrical about how M1 Abrams tanks and Leopard 2 have proved to be not so formidable in combat against enemies who are no where near as well armed as Russian forces which have air superiority and a massive artillery firepower advantage. From March of 2003 to March of 2005 approximately, 80 Abrams tanks were knocked out by Iraqi militias using IEDs and Russian made anti tank weapons. In Syria 10 Leopard 2 tanks were knocked out by Isis and Kurdish militias using Russian made anti tank weapons whilst fighting against Turkey’s invading army.

We could go on to discuss the different specifications of Russian tanks as compared to Western main battle tanks. In many ways that is a fruitless endeavour as training, experience and how the tanks are used in combined arms combat are more important on the battlefield. The military analysts on the Slavyangrad Telegram channel have observed,

‘Any comparison between tanks doesn’t matter a bit, because any Western tanks provided to Ukraine will be managed by crewmen inexperienced with Western systems, while Russian crewmen have hundreds, if not thousands of hours of real combat experience with their own systems. It’s going to be a manslaughter (or rather a “tankslaughter”).”

NATO At “War With Russia” As Western Main Battle Tanks Are Sent To Ukraine To Enable It To “Win This War”

The man take away for me from the announcement of Western tank deliveries to Ukraine is how this represents a huge escalation of the proxy war between the US and Russia. The questions ordinary people in the West should be asking are: Will deliveries of hi tech NATO 5th generation fighter bombers be the next weapons system to be sent to Ukraine? Or maybe the West will send Ukraine long range missile systems that can hit Moscow and other major Russian cities? Are these weapons deliveries going to continue escalating to the point where Russia feels it has no choice but to use tactical nuclear weapons in response?

You may say that I am exaggerating. However, comments from various NATO politicians make it clear that the West intends to support Ukraine until it wins victory over a nuclear armed power. At a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated:

“And therefore I’ve said already in the last days – yes, we have to do more to defend Ukraine. Yes, we have to do more also on tanks. But the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe, because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”

In reply to Baerbock’s comments Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova retorted:

If we add this to Merkel’s revelations that they were strengthening Ukraine and did not count on the Minsk agreements, then we are talking about a war against Russia that was planned in advance. Don’t say later that we didn’t warn you,”

We are living in very dangerous times which require ordinary people all over the world to pressure their governments to support the demand for immediate peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. You may say that I’m a dreamer but I know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want the war in Ukraine leading to a nuclear war between Russia and the United States.

By Dr. Leon Tressell Via