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“Germany holds the key to the accelerator of Western military aid to Ukraine, at a strategic time when this assistance must intensify”


“Acceleration”. The word is from the British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, and also comes in Ukrainian, but as we approach the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s on the minds of every Western leader: to give kyiv the means to deal with the new Russian offensive which is being prepared between now and spring, it is necessary to speed up arms deliveries and move upmarket in heavy equipment.

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This slogan will dominate the discussions of the defense ministers of the allied countries of Ukraine who will meet on Friday, January 20, at the American base in Ramstein, Germany. Very advanced in the assistance to the Ukrainian forces, the British took the lead of the movement by announcing, on January 14, the expedition of a squadron of fourteen Challenger 2 tanks ” in the coming weeks “. These will be the first Western-made heavy tanks deployed in the Ukrainian theater.

What is an acceleration? In recent weeks, explains Camille Grand, a former senior NATO official, now an expert at the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations, “several successive locks have jumped” in military aid to Ukraine. First on ground-to-air defense systems, of which the United States and Germany are preparing to deliver one of the most efficient, the Patriot system.

Then came the turn of light armored combat vehicles: there, France took the lead, when President Emmanuel Macron announced, on January 4, the forthcoming shipment of AMX-10 RC tanks; the next day, Berlin and Washington followed suit.

The next “bolt” concerned Western combat tanks, which would allow the Ukrainian army to carry out offensives that would cost less in terms of human losses. The Ukrainian Chief of Staff, General Valeri Zaloujny, estimates current needs at 300 tanks.

Reinforcements are now

It’s a lot. For comparison, in 2020 France had 222 Leclerc tanks of this type. The fourteen Challengers of Rishi Sunak (the United Kingdom has 227) will therefore not make the weight. But London, convinced that“a window has opened” in conflict, with “Russia on the defensive due to supply problems and low morale”, wants to start the movement. For Downing Street, “a long and static war only serves the interests of Russia” : the reinforcements, it is now.

The message is aimed in particular at two countries, two countries that are having a lot of trouble accelerating, for sometimes different reasons: France and Germany. In Paris, we believe we have already taken a big step with the delivery of light tanks and the repeated commitment that France will do everything to ensure “Ukrainian Victory”. For the rest, each country does according to its possibilities; France is deploying Leclerc tanks in Romania to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank, but does not plan to send any to Ukraine at this stage.

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