“Some of these movements were explicitly symbolic. The reason the UK offered a small package of Challenger 2 tanks was almost openly to demolish the latest of Germany’s excuses for not doing the right thing,» said Keir Giles, Russia expert and analyst at Chatham think tank. House in London.

“At the Abrams, the US is selling this as a long-term capability development, as opposed to something that will enable the current defense or offense in the spring. However, it still has the effect of torpedoing Germany’s final objection and gets things moving.»

Following the news on Wednesday, Russia carried out a new shelling strike in Ukraine early Thursday, with what the Ukrainian military said was a wave of 55 missiles fired from fighter jets, ships and drones that killed two civilians, one in Kyiv and another in Kherson, destroying dozens of buildings and energy facilities. Ukraine said its defenses intercepted 47 of the missiles.

Much of the war has been conducted with artillery exchanges, but as the Ukraine seeks to retake land, tanks are increasingly needed. The problem, analysts say, is that the number of tanks announced so far is not enough.

“There have been around 1,300 Russian tank losses… so the actual number of new tanks [for Ukraine] in a military sense they are not that significant. Conventional military theory holds that an attacking force should have a ratio of 3 to 1. There is a lot of Ukraine and 20, 30, 40 tanks are not enough,” said Ronald Ti, an expert in military logistics at King’s College London.

However, the initiative to create a new “tank coalition”, as some officials called it, has been very well received in Ukraine.

A Leopard 2 tank during a training exercise in Ostenholz, northern Germany, last October. Germany has promised to send 14 leopards to Ukraine.Ronny Hartmann / AFP – Getty Images

“Europe stopped suffering from the ‘Russian disease’: I do not see or hear anything, I am afraid and I am silent”, Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on Twitter Thursday.

Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine needs around 300 tanks to successfully defend its territory from an expected Russian spring offensive and to begin retaking territory ceded to Moscow since the invasion began last February.

There are around 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks in Europe, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, and Germany, Poland and others were keen to emphasize that this week’s tank pledge was just a first step.

“I suppose all this points to a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in the spring. And you don’t do that with Javelin-2 type missiles, you do that with tanks,” Ti said. The reliable Leopard 2 could be the platform for retaking towns and cities, as the Ukrainian forces did with the liberation of Kherson in November.

Even if Ukraine gets all the tanks it is asking for, the war will not be won by tanks alone, said Ed Arnold, a European security researcher at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London.

Germany agrees to send Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, seen in Berlin on Wednesday, has faced long-standing criticism for his reluctance to send military equipment to Ukraine.Tobias Schwarz / AFP – Getty Images

“Tanks have become a political symbol in this war and now other nations will be asked to contribute… although they are not always the most effective contributions countries can make,” he said.

Ukraine has also called for armored personnel carriers and infantry vehicles to be deployed alongside the tanks, such as the Bradley fighting vehicles already promised by the US.

President Joe Biden told a news conference Wednesday that the international tank deal was a sign of allies’ strength and unity.

“Putin hoped that Europe and the United States would weaken our resolve. He was wrong,” he said.

US Army Abrams tanks from the 2nd Brigade, 69th Regiment, 2nd Battalion at the Mockava train station in Lithuania on September 5, 2020.
US Army Abrams tanks from the 2nd Brigade, 69th Regiment, 2nd Battalion at the Mockava train station in Lithuania on September 5, 2020.Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images file

But the move appears to have simply masked long-term flaws in the Western alliance backing Ukraine’s defense against the nearly year-old Russian invasion.

“Any time there is a consensus that Ukraine needs a certain weapons system or capability… the process is exactly the same: there is a long period of vacillation in which the West pays too much attention to repeated Russian claims that this will lead to a climbing. Giles said.

“And when the decision is finally made, it becomes clear that the Russian threats were meaningless. However, they will continue to do them because they see the rewarding effect it has in deterring Western support.»