UK offers tanks in Ukraine’s hour of need, but will Germany follow suit?

© Joerg Sarbach, AP

Britain’s offer to send more than a dozen Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine has increased pressure on Germany to do likewise with its coveted Leopard 2 battle tanks. But the German defence minister’s resignation on Monday, just days before a critical meeting at the US Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, has raised questions over whether Berlin will give the green light for battle tank exports to Ukraine.

Tanks have rolled onto centre stage this week as members of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group are set to meet at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, January 20, for a third such gathering since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

The meeting could not have come at a more critical time. With weeks to go before the winter snows melt, and with Russia mobilised for a spring offensive, Ukraine requires a massive firepower boost from its Western allies – and it needs it fast.

Enter the tank, a piece of military hardware once considered obsolete and too expensive for modern warfare. But as Ukrainian troops attempt to break through Russia’s deep, fixed frontline defences in the Donbas, tanks have been dominating the discourse in the lead-up to the Ramstein meeting.

Britain upped the stakes over the weekend, when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday said the UK would deliver a squadron of 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. “Sending Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine is the start of a gear change,” Sunak's office said in a statement late Saturday.

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