Germany confirmed on Wednesday it was sending battle tanks to help Ukraine in the war – what Russia called a “disastrous plan” which it said was part of a wider “blatant provocation” led by the United States.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced that his government will supply Ukraine with a company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks, which includes 14 vehicles, from its own stocks.
Scholz said Germany was “acting in close coordination” with its allies – primarily the United States – in an effort to provide two battalions, or 88 tanks.
US officials said a preliminary agreement has been reached to send M1 Abrams tanks, while Poland, Finland, France and the UK are also expected to send comparable military vehicles.
It is seen as a major turning point in Western support as it is the first supply of weapons that were primarily offensive in nature rather than defensive.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday dismissed German and American intentions with the tanks as “a rather disastrous plan.”
“I’m sure many scholars understand the absurdity of this idea,” Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.
“These tanks will burn like all the others. … Except that they are very expensive and that will fall on the shoulders of European taxpayers,” he added.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, said US tank deliveries would be “another blatant provocation”.
“It is obvious that Washington is deliberately trying to inflict a strategic defeat on us,” Antonov said on the embassy’s Telegram messaging channel.
Russian propagandists on state television reacted even more angrily, calling it a time to use nuclear weapons.
“Not using nuclear weapons is a dangerous trend,” said Vladimir Solovyov, a close host of warmongering Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We have superiority in tactical nuclear weapons. Why have them if we can’t use them? he added on Wednesday, according to a clip translated by Russian Media Monitor.
He blamed the threat of nuclear weapons for the slowdown in tank supplies to the West, which he called “Ukro-Nazis” and “Nazi filth” meddling in a “holy war”.
“We are at war with the entire NATO bloc, against 50 satanic countries,” he said, suggesting that every country sending tanks should be “considered a legitimate military target.”
“They fear nothing,” he said, saying the only answer had to be “escalation.”
Putin’s ally Dmitry Medvedev is among those who have also openly called for the unleashing of nuclear weapons.
Western officials who support sending the tanks dismissed Moscow’s threats as bluster, arguing that Russia is already waging a full-scale war in Ukraine and has been deterred from attacking NATO or using nuclear weapons. .
German military officials, meanwhile, noted the painful historical significance for Germany, given the horrors of World War II.
“German-made tanks will again face Russian tanks in Ukraine,” said Ekkehard Brose, head of the German Army’s Federal Security Policy Academy.
It was “not an easy thought” for Germany – “and yet it is the right decision”, Brose said, saying it was up to Western democracies to help Ukraine stop the military campaign of Russia.
Recent opinion polls have shown German voters divided on the idea, with two opposition parties criticizing the move.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party called the decision “irresponsible and dangerous”, saying “Germany risks being drawn directly into the war”.
The left-wing party also warned of a possible escalation of the conflict.
“The supply of Leopard battle tanks, which breaks another taboo, potentially brings us closer to a third world war rather than to peace in Europe,” the party’s parliamentary leader, Dietmar Bartsch, told the agency. German press dpa.
Mark Hertling, former commander of US ground forces in Europe, estimated the Leopards could be on the battlefield in Ukraine as early as March. American tanks, which need more logistical support, could be more than eight months away.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, made it clear late Tuesday that he hoped to receive more tanks from Western allies.
“It’s not about five, or 10, or 15 tanks. The need is greater,” he said.
With post wires