It is no secret that the Ukrainians want more tanks from the West to push the Russian invaders out of their country. But the West has been reluctant to send any advanced main battle tanks to Kyiv. So, the Ukrainian military is resulting in some psychological operations to influence Western audiences and put pressure on their governments to send tanks.
This is how Ukraine is “trolling” Germany, France, and the U.S. to get more tanks.
‘Trolling’ straight out of the 1980s
In a series of videos straight out of a 1980s B-movie, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has been trolling the West to get more main battle tanks.
Kyiv has released three videos, each about one NATO main battle tank that could help its fight against Russia.
The first video released on January 12 jokingly tried to define the term tank so as to make it easier for Western countries to decide if they can send some to Ukraine. The video was aimed at the U.S. and it not-so-subtly requested the M1 Abrams tank, one of the most capable main battle tanks in the world.
“Western countries are so worried about sending tanks to Ukraine, they’re arguing about what is and isn’t a ‘tank.’ We offer our humble suggestion,” the Ukrainians tweeted.
The second video went out on January 18 and was aimed at France, asking for the Leclerc main battle tank.
Although France hasn’t said anything about sending Leclerc tanks to Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron did announce that his country would be sending a number of AMX-10RC tank destroyers.
“Western nations wax philosophical about what is and is not a ‘tank.’ And so do we, bien sûr,” the Ukrainians tweeted.
Finally, the third video was released a day later, on January 19, and undoubtedly targeted Ukraine’s largest “opponent” when it comes to security assistance: Germany.
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Calling the tank “Leopard 2A4 Luxury Executive Sedan,” Ukraine made the case why Germany should either send or let other willing countries provide the tank to Ukraine. NATO members sit on a fleet of around 2,000 Leopard 2s. Poland has announced a package of 14 Leopard 2s to Ukraine, and Finland is keen too. But both countries, or indeed any other, can’t do anything until Germany gives them re-export permission. Berlin, on its end, will only do so only if the U.S. provides M1 Abrams to Kyiv.
“We appreciate there’s still a bit of angst about sending tanks to Ukraine. We’re here to help,” the Ukrainians tweeted.
The video ends with a call to action in German and English: “Release the Leopards.”
Conspicuously absent from the videos is the United Kingdom. But there is a good reason for that as over the weekend, the British government announced that it would send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.
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Why Ukraine needs more advanced tanks from the West
The Ukrainian military has received more than $30 billion in security aid from the West since the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022.
Western military aid includes everything and anything from FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles to M-777 155mm howitzers to AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles to Humvee tactical vehicles to M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
However, Western military aid hasn’t included any NATO main battle tanks. To be sure, the U.S., Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands have provided or modernized more than 300 T-72 Soviet- and Russian-made tanks for Ukraine. And although those tanks have helped the Ukrainian military replenish its forces after almost a year of fighting, they aren’t enough to break the Russian defenses.
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Western tanks, such as the Challenger 2, M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, and Leclerc, will help Ukraine in its upcoming counteroffensives.
In September, the Ukrainian military launched a highly successful surprise counteroffensive in the east, liberating hundreds of square miles of territory around Kharkiv in just a few days. Soon after, the Ukrainians struck in the south, too, liberating large swaths of territory and forcing the Russians to abandon the western part of Kherson province and also Kherson City, the only provincial capital that had been captured by Moscow.
The mud and rain of fall and early winter have slowed down the Ukrainian momentum. But the ground will soon harden again, and mobile warfare will once more be feasible. Arming Ukraine with more tanks now that the battlefield is still “frozen” will give Kyiv a better chance of success in the upcoming counteroffensives and can end the war quicker.
Feature Image: A Leopard 2 tank. (Polish Ministry of Defense)
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