January 7, 2023
Why has the West “suddenly” decided to cross the “red line” with Western-made tracked IFVs (Bradleys, Marders, etc.)?
Putin and Lavrov both confirmed what I had been saying forever: Russia is not interested in any peace that does not give it conquered territories — all that nonsense about NATO expansion and protecting Russian-speakers in Ukraine have always been tall fairy tales that Western useful idiots bandied about parlors but never serious causes for war. Conquest of territory has been Putin’s goal from the very beginning, and he is not giving it up. I think (hope?) that this message has finally registered fully with people in Washington, Berlin, and Paris.
If so, then any hope of peace that has a chance of being enduring — as opposed to a prelude to another round of war — requires the military defeat of Russia in Ukraine. Otherwise, the Kremlin will simply not give up. I believe the West has finally abandoned all illusions that they can negotiate some “just” peace with Putin and his cronies. Of course, I have been saying that this is impossible from the get go, but then again, I started with the assumption about Putin’s goals that only now seems to be adopted more fully in the West. With that assumption, the conclusion is inevitable.
The military defeat of Russia in Ukraine requires that ZSU liberate all territories conquered since February 2022, and possibly the ones taken in 2014. This means the Ukrainians will need not just IFVs but tanks, and lots of them. The stocks of available Soviet-era vehicles are being depleted, which means the West has to start sending ours. This is why tanks are inevitable. There is no way ZSU will have enough armor to punch through the Russian defenses in ORDLO and Crimea without deliveries of Western tanks. The logic implies that we will simply have to send them.
The West is still pussy-footing about the tanks, and it’s not entirely clear to me why. On one hand, it does appear that Germany has dropped the ball on its own park of Leopards, and so many require serious service to be made operational. (So do many of our Abrams M1s stored in the desert — since quite a few seem to have been used for spare parts over time.) On the other hand, Spain, Finland, and Poland seem willing to consider sending their Leopards to Ukraine but Germany would not let them. The US seems to prefer that Ukraine got Leopards since these will be easier to service closer to the front, but there just might not be enough of them available given the European lackadaisical attitude toward their own defense for decades.
There might be still some in Washington and Berlin who consider tanks another “red line” but it’s high time they understand that there are no red lines as far as Putin is concerned. He is going to do what he’s going to do, and it matters not a hoot whether we impose red lines on ourselves or not. Perhaps the Russians mobilizing another 500,000 soldiers this month will jolt these people out of their dreams? In fact, the Western reluctance to “escalate” by sending tanks to Ukraine is probably interpreted as fear rather than responsible statecraft in the Kremlin.
The West must accelerate military aid to Ukraine, and include the equipment the Ukrainians need to push the Russians out. The evidence is in, and it’s unequivocal: Putin will not negotiate on anything less than gobbling up half of the country. We cannot allow this to happen, and delays in supplying ZSU are merely prolonging the war and increasing the number of people that will die in it.
If you want a shorter war, give Ukraine the weapons to win it.
In addition to the aid, the West must continue to signal unequivocal commitment to seeing this war through to Ukrainian victory. Putin must be under no illusions that the West would crack and that Russia — with its creaking stone-age economy — would somehow be able to outlast the combined economies of the West. It’s a matter of political will, and we must demonstrate it.
Which is another way of saying, SEND THE DAMN TANKS!