Meeting at the Ramstein airbase: Western partners form the “offensive fist” requested by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Zaluzhnybut stalled on tanks because of the position of Germany. Ukraine calls think about F-16 fighters and long-range missiles.
“We have an optimistic breakthrough,” says LIGA.net defense minister Alexey Reznikov. “Today we have agreed that countries that have Leopard-2s in service can start training courses for our tank crews … First you need to learn, and then be ready to use this or that technique.”
How Rammstein-8 went, will it be possible to crush Germany on tanks before the spring offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, what else does Ukraine need – analysis LIGA.net.
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WHAT’S HAPPENED. The main topic of the Ramstein-8 meeting was the German tanks Leopard 2. They agree to supply them to Ukraine, in particular, Poland, Finland, Slovakia, Czech Republic. But Germany has not yet given permission for re-export and does not agree to supply itself.
Western allies crushed to Berlin on the eve of the meeting. For example, with the new German Minister of Defense personally negotiated head of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin. Poland warned that will supply Ukraine with Leopardeven if he does not receive permission from Berlin.
But no single decision was made at Ramstein: the issue of transferring Leopard to other countries should be decided by the chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“We cannot yet say at what point a decision on Leopard will be made. It can be taken quickly if an agreement is reached with the allies,” – said at the German Ministry of Defense.
However, Reznikov sees an “optimistic breakthrough”: the partners have agreed that Leopard’s owning countries can start training courses for Ukrainian crews. “First you need to learn, and then be ready to use this or that technique,” explains the minister. LIGA.net.
At the same time, on the eve and during Ramstein, Western partners stepped up assistance in the areas of armored vehicles, artillery and air defense:
- USA for two packages worth $5.5 billion (the first, second) give Ukraine 109 “tank killers” Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers, 100 M113 armored personnel carriers, more than 100 mine-resistant vehicles (MRAPs), 350 Humvees, missiles for HIMARS and NASAMS, 18 howitzers of 155-mm caliber and 38 howitzers 105 -mm, hundreds of thousands of ammunition for artillery;
- Britain – 30 HEALTH AS90about 100,000 artillery shells, a company of Challenger tanks, a hundred armored vehicles (including the FV430 Mk3 Bulldog), 600 Brimstone missiles;
- Poland until the end of March equip and train tank brigade on the T-72;
- Denmark – 19 SAU Caesar;
- Sweden – Hello Archer 155 mm and up to 50 CV90 infantry fighting vehicles;
- Germany – 40 BMP Marderseven Gepard anti-aircraft guns, IRIS-T air defense systems;
- France – AMX-10RC wheeled tanks, Bastion armored vehicles;
- Canada – 200 armored cars Senator APC and ZRK NASAMS;
- Netherlands – Battery SAM Patriot (two more previously promised by the US and Germany) and are ready pay Leopard supplies.
Promise to give Ukraine dozens of artillery units, armored vehicles and seek the supply of tanks from nine more countries: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Denmark, Britain, the Netherlands, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT. To reach the frontiers at least on February 23, Ukraine needs 300 tanks, 600-700 infantry fighting vehicles and 500 howitzers, Zaluzhny said at the end of 2022. Russia is also preparing a new offensive.
Partners began to form “shock fist” Zaluzny, says LIGA.net military analyst and IDF officer Yigal Levin. Therefore, a feature of the new Western aid packages is a large number of modern armored vehicles.
In order for armored vehicles to change the situation on the battlefield, hundreds of units are needed, explains LIGA.net chief editor of Defense Express Oleg Katkov.
“Western partners believed in Ukraine’s victory,” Levin explains the supply of armored vehicles. “They believed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine could not only defend their territory, but also recapture and reach the 1991 borders.”
Another feature is the increase in the supply of artillery systems, Katkov notes. Previously, partners could not provide more barrels, since the main issue was with the provision of ammunition.
“And now the issue with ammunition has been resolved. And it is possible to increase the number of artillery systems,” the expert says.
In general, partners are moving towards a more integrated approach, explains Katkov. They provide immediate solutions.
For example, a brigade set with 109 American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers looms. If we add another 31 tanks and 30 155-mm howitzers to it, then there will be an almost complete brigade.
And deliveries of Leopard would be a good help for Ukraine, says Levin. There are about 2000 of them all over Europe – and many countries are familiar with them, know how to repair and maintain them.
Read more about the benefits of Leopard: “The Ice Breaks”. The West gives Ukraine battle tanks: how many “Leopards” can the Armed Forces of Ukraine get
“I don’t understand Germany’s position objectively,” says Katkov. “OK, you don’t want to transfer the Leopard. But granting a formal permit for re-export does not require Bundestag meetings. It can be done by a government decision, not even at the chancellor level.”
Deputy Foreign Minister and ex-ambassador to Germany Andrei Melnik calls The German Ministry of Defense to stop the show and open the way to deliveries of Leopard.
WHAT’S NEXT. The new weapon will allow Ukraine not only to defend itself against new Russian attacks, but also to launch an offensive, sure Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg. And consultations on Leopard will continue.
“We have a window of opportunity until about spring, when Ukraine can launch its counteroffensive,” declared Austin.
Ukraine can carry out offensives at the tactical and strategic levels, said US General Mark Milley. According to his forecast: it will be very difficult to liberate all the territories by the end of 2023, but it is possible – everything depends on the supply of weapons and the training of the military.
Polish Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak convinced: it will be possible to create a tank coalition. But Germany will resist to the last, says LIGA.net Aleksey Melnik, co-director of foreign policy and international security programs at the Razumkov Center.
“If we are talking about the time when it will be possible to put the squeeze on, then I think it will be weeks,” the expert predicts.
There remains a lot of leverage over Germany, Katkov notes. For example, the German contract with the United States for the supply of F-35 aircraft.
“The United States can say: you wanted to buy F-35s by 2026, and they will be by 2030. They wanted to upgrade radio stations with L3HARRIS – the price tag goes up. There is a huge amount of leverage. I can’t even hypothetically imagine the reason why Berlin will give consent for re-export,” explains the Defense Express expert.
According to Katkov, if Poland or other partners decide to supply Leopard bypassing Germany, Berlin is unlikely to file lawsuits in international courts or impose penalties.
Zelensky already asked partners at Ramstein-9 to coordinate the supply of F-16 fighter jets and long-range missiles to Ukraine.
There are chances. Netherlands ready consider handing over F-16s if requested by Ukraine. Another sign of the possibility of deliveries of fighters may be the transfer of Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine, says Katkov. They are needed to protect air bases from Russian missiles, which must be prepared to receive Western aircraft.
Washington understandsthat Ukraine needs long-range weapons, but so far does not provide ATACMS missiles for HIMARS with a range of about 300 km.
Britain can take the lead on this issue, as it has already done with tanks. On the need to give long-range missiles declared defense minister Ben Wallaceand CNN sources they saythat some British officials are open to deliveries of long-range systems.
The ATACMS issue is highly politicized, says Katkov. According to his forecast, Ukraine is more likely to quietly receive air-launched cruise missiles. “It was like Harm,” he says. “Then the Russians started yelling and publishing the serial numbers of these missiles. And only then did the West begin to admit that these missiles were transferred and listed in the item on means to combat the radar.”
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