The World Today for February 08, 2023

NEED TO KNOW

Tanking Diplomacy

RUSSIA/ UKRAINE

A Russian company that makes materials for oil fracking, Fores, is offering more than $70,000 to the first Russian soldiers who capture or destroy any of the tanks given to Ukraine by the US and Europe.

The announcement of the bounty came around a week after the US, Germany and other European countries said they would send advanced American M1 Abrams and German Leopard 2 tanks to help Ukraine in its nearly year-long fight against its larger neighbor, reported Reuters.

Fores’ reward might symbolize the desperation as well as resignation that is settling in among Russian military commanders.

Experts believe the new advanced battle tanks will give Ukraine a technical edge on the battlefield that could compensate for the massive numbers of soldiers that Russian President Vladimir Putin is throwing at the conflict, wrote the Independent. Observers forecast that hostilities will erupt in earnest in the spring when both Ukrainian and Russian forces are expected to attempt to claim contested territory in the country’s war-torn east.

Ukraine has been performing well so far in the tank department. The Ukrainians have been capturing and retrofitting Russian tanks left on the battlefield, for example, NBC News explained. Some of these refurbished tanks have outperformed Russia’s repurposed Soviet-era tanks, Insider added. Tank commanders told ABC News they will do even better with state-of-the-art vehicles.

But some fear that Western tanks could trigger an expansion of the conflict, too, which is why the US and its allies delayed their approval of sending tanks for so long – and why the US and most in Europe are naysaying the providing of powerful fighter jets such as F-16s, for now.

Bloomberg Opinion columnist Pankaj Mishra, for example, warned that the West was adding fuel to the war. Speaking at the VISION Consulting Annual Leadership Forum in London, historian Adam Tooze likened the tanks to American lend-lease programs that provided vital warships and other goods to Britain during World War II, a move that undoubtedly helped drag America into the war.

These fears are one reason why Germany dragged its feet for months on sending tanks to Ukraine or allowing other countries like Poland to ship them (under purchase agreements, Germany has the right to veto exports of German-made tanks to third countries).

Of course, Germany’s past as the instigator of World War II and the horrors that followed also weighed on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s mind, the BBC added. Since the end of the Cold War, Germany has sought to reduce militarism both domestically and abroad in order to mitigate the chances of a European or worldwide conflict. This policy, argued German journalist Jan-Philipp Hein in the Guardian, is why Scholz was reluctant to send the tanks.

Now, however, German tanks shall be once again rolling through Eastern Europe and fighting the Russians. This time, however, the US and Germany are on the same side.

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