German Chancellor Olaf Scholz walks past a Leopard 2 tank

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz walks past a Leopard 2 tank while visiting the Bundeswehr army training center in Ostenholz on October 17, 2022.

(Photo: David Hecker/Getty Images)

US Poised to Follow Suit as Germany Approves Shipment of Tanks to Ukraine

"This is not the path to peace and marks a serious escalation," said the U.K.-based Stop the War Coalition. "Sending tanks is a step further away from negotiation."

The Biden administration is reportedly finalizing a plan to send dozens of Abrams tanks to Ukraine and Germany announced Wednesday that it has agreed to supply Kyiv's forces with 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks, moves that peace advocates said represent a dangerous escalation of the war.

Both the U.S. and Germany had previously hesitated to approve the delivery of tanks to Ukraine, which has been under assault from Russian forces for nearly a year. As CNNreported Wednesday, "German officials had openly stated that they would only send their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the U.S. sent the M-1 Abrams tank, a system U.S. officials had repeatedly stated was overly complex and difficult to maintain."

"The U.S. decision to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine is an abrupt about-face from its stated position, one that allows Germany to send its tanks and to clear the way for the approval of other European countries to send in more of the German-made Leopard 2 tanks as well," the outlet added.

The Biden administration is expected to announce its plan to send tanks to Ukraine later Wednesday. Citing a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the plan, The Washington Postreported that the U.S. tanks may not arrive in Ukraine "until at least the fall."

It will likely take months to train Ukrainian forces to use the tanks, analysts say.

Anti-war campaigners and commentators warned that the shipment of battle tanks into Ukraine will deepen the West's involvement in a devastating conflict that is at risk of becoming a direct—and potentially nuclear—confrontation between Russia and NATO.

"This is not the path to peace and marks a serious escalation," responded the U.K.-based Stop the War Coalition. "Arming Ukraine and sending tanks is a step further away from negotiation."

In a column for Responsible Statecraft on Monday, Branko Marcetic cautioned that "little by little, NATO and the United States are creeping closer to the catastrophic scenario President Joe Biden said 'we must strive to prevent'—direct conflict between the United States and Russia."

"When the United States involves itself militarily in a conflict, it often finds it hard to get itself out, let alone avoid deep entanglements that blow well past lines it had drawn at the start of the intervention," Marcetic wrote, citing Vietnam and Afghanistan as clear examples.

"Unless officials make a concerted effort to deescalate and pursue a diplomatic track—and prominent voices in media and politics create the political space for them to do it—Biden's vow to avoid World War Three will mean as much as President Johnson's 1964 promise not to 'send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves,'" Marcetic added.

"Little by little, NATO and the United States are creeping closer to the catastrophic scenario President Joe Biden said 'we must strive to prevent'—direct conflict between the United States and Russia."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who faced significant pressure from Baltic nations to send tanks to Ukraine, said the agreement was reached after "intensive consultations that have taken place between Germany and its closest European and international partners."

Dietmar Bartsch, parliamentary leader of Germany's Left party, denounced Scholz's decision, warning that the "supply of Leopard battle tanks... potentially takes us closer to a third world war than in the direction of peace in Europe."

The U.S. and Germany's tanks will add to the supply already pledged by Poland, Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands, Finland, and Denmark.

"Together, we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace," right-wing British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted Wednesday.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, wrote on social media that "the tank coalition is formed."

"Everyone who doubted this could ever happen sees now: for Ukraine and partners impossible is nothing," Kuleba added. "I call on all new partners that have Leopard 2 tanks in service to join the coalition and provide as many of them as possible."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, for his part, called the U.S. and German plans "disastrous" because of "technological aspects," an apparent reference to the complexities involved in training Ukrainian forces to use and maintain the tanks.

"I am convinced that many specialists understand the absurdity of this idea," said Peskov. "These tanks will burn down just like all the other ones... Except they cost a lot, and this will fall on the shoulders of European taxpayers."

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