American lawmakers urge U.S. to ship Abrams tanks to Ukraine

By | January 22, 2023

Reuters reports:

American lawmakers on Sunday pushed the U.S. government to export M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, saying that even sending a symbolic number to Kyiv would be enough to push European allies to do the same.

Michael McCaul, the newly installed Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” that “just one” Abrams tank would be enough to prompt allies, notably Germany, to unlock their own tank inventories for the fight against Russia.

“Even saying that we’re going to put Abrams tanks in would be enough,” he said.

Ukrainian officials have been calling on Western allies for months to supply them with modern tanks as the country fights against a full-scale Russian invasion.

Britain recently announced it was supplying 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, but the real prize are Germany’s Leopard 2 heavy tanks, which Ukraine’s allies are in a position to supply. Pressure has been mounting on Berlin for weeks to send some of its Leopards to Ukraine or at least approve their transfer from third countries.

But Germany appears to have tied any such contribution to a U.S. move to send its own Abrams tanks, something American officials have said they are reluctant to do because the vehicles are complicated to maintain. Democratic Senator Chris Coons told ABC that it was time to set aside those concerns.

“If it requires our sending some Abrams tanks to unlock getting the Leopard tanks from Germany, from Poland, from other allies I would support that,” he said. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports:

Ever since the defeat of Nazism, Germany has self-consciously devoted itself to promoting “peace” and integrating into a European and trans-Atlantic security order where consensus has been the byword.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is now forcing Germany to rethink decades-old ideas about its place in Europe, its relationship to Russia and the use of military force.

Germany built its postwar economy on cheap Russian energy and supposedly apolitical trade with Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China, believing that trade produces change, somehow moderating authoritarian regimes.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has challenged all of that. It has been as much a psychological shock to Germany as a political one, undercutting many of its assumptions about Russia; its president, Vladimir V. Putin; and the role of Germany in a Europe suddenly at war.

Nowhere is the disorientation more apparent than in Germany’s reluctance, for now, to send Ukraine its excellent main battle tank, the Leopard 2, or to allow other countries to do so. The stance has risked isolating Germany and exasperating its allies. Most important, the Ukrainians say, Germany’s hesitance threatens to hamper their ability to hold off or turn around an anticipated Russian offensive this spring.

While Germans overwhelmingly support Ukraine in its fight, the hesitation on sending tanks reflects the deep ambivalence in a nation with a catastrophic history of aggression during World War II and that remains profoundly divided about being a military leader and risking a direct confrontation with Russia. Opinion polls show that half of Germans do not want to send tanks.

“German reluctance here can be summed up in one word, and that’s ‘history,’” said Steven E. Sokol, the president of the American Council on Germany.

“Germans want to be seen as a partner, not an aggressor, and they have a particular sensitivity to delivering arms in regions where German arms were historically used to kill millions of people,” he said, citing Russia, Poland and Ukraine. “People do not want German weapons on the front lines being used to kill people in those regions.”

But Germans risk misinterpreting the lessons of their history, said Timothy Garton Ash, a historian of Germany and Europe at St. Antony’s College at Oxford. “The German position is profoundly confused, with the old thinking dead and the new not yet born,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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