Joe Biden and his German counterpart Olaf Schulz They agreed to send infantry fighting vehicles to help Ukraine fight Russia, a day after France said it would supply its own armored vehicles to Kyiv in a bid to achieve a breakthrough in the ten-month war.
The joint declaration came on the heels of a phone call between Biden and Schultz and marks a step change in Western military support for the Ukrainewhich requested up to 700 armored vehicles to help drive the Russians out.
The United States intends to supply Ukraine with Bradley infantry fighting vehicles Germany “It intends to supply Ukraine with Mardier infantry fighting vehicles,” the White House said in a statement on Thursday.
Ukraine has repeatedly said it needs 600 to 700 infantry fighting vehicles plus 300 tanks from the West in order to give its army a chance to break through the increasingly fortified Russian positions along the front line.
Until now, however, the United States and Germany have been wary of providing Ukraine with NATO-style armor, as they fear Russia will interpret it as escalatory. But the decision to supply Western armored vehicles is important, even if the two countries refrain from sending tanks.
The White House added that Germany will also provide Ukraine with a Patriot air defense system, in addition to the system that the United States promised last month. Both countries will train the Ukrainian military in Marders and Bradleys, though it was not immediately clear how many troops would be made available to each.
Deputy Schulz spoke of his support. “It’s a good decision,” said Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice chancellor and economics minister, whose administration has to export green weapons.
Since the beginning of the war, we have continually expanded our support in coordination with our partners. It only makes sense that we would also take this step.
Ukraine has the right to defend itself against Russian attack, and we have the duty to help it.
France said on Wednesday it was increasing its military assistance to Kyiv by providing an unspecified number of AMX-10 RC light armored vehicles capable of carrying out reconnaissance roles and supporting main battle tanks. Hours later, Biden hinted that the US was considering pursuing the Bradley family.
Earlier on Thursday, senior German ministers indicated that their country’s position is also evolving rapidly. Habeck, on a visit to the Norwegian capital, Oslo, said Germany’s position had never been “fixed” and that it would be affected by the willingness of France and the United States to “deliver lighter tanks.”
Germany’s foreign minister, Annalina Berbock, made similar remarks. “I have indicated over and over again that we are working with our partners to see what kind of military support Ukraine requires,” she said after meeting her British counterpart, James Cleverly, in London. Astute himself said the tanks “may” be part of the next phase of arms transfers.
On Wednesday night, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said Paris’ decision sent “a clear signal to all our other partners: there is no logical reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with Western-type tanks.”
Ukraine has long been interested in Western tanks and armor to supplement its reduced fleet of Soviet-designed T-64 and T-72 tanks and BMP infantry fighting vehicles, after more than 10 months of fighting.
Kyiv has received about 200 post-Soviet tanks from Eastern European countries since the start of the war, but available supplies are in Europe Now limited.
To replenish its stocks and build a new attacking force, Ukraine has sought to acquire Leopard 2 tanks, or US-made M1A1 Abrams tanks, but its pressure was unsuccessful last year.
“Tanks can be crucial because there is no alternative if you want to attack enemy formations in defensive positions,” said Ben Barry, a former British Army tank commander and land warfare analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Russia has largely sought to dig in since it gave up its exposed position in Kherson on the western side of the Dnipro River in November, as it tries to consolidate its occupation of a swath of territory roughly the size of Portugal in eastern and southern Ukraine.
A breach, if it ever occurs, will likely require the combined use of tanks, heavy armor, and infantry, replicating a standard offensive tactic dating back to World War II. “The effectiveness of the infantry is double, even with only three or four tanks helping,” Barry added.
The French six-wheeled AMX-10 RC was first deployed in the 1980s and has been used in multiple operations, from Afghanistan to Mali. However, it is in the process of being phased out by Paris, making it a perfect gift for Ukraine.
An aide to French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “the first time that Ukrainian armed forces have been equipped with Western-designed tanks” but experts said the AMX-10 RC was too lightly armored to be considered a suitable tank.
Additional reporting by Patrick Wintour
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