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Westerners Begin To Consider Delivering Offensive Weapons To Ukraine

The Czech Republic was the first to take the plunge a few days ago: it announced the delivery to the Ukrainians of assault tanks, T72M models of Soviet design. And Poland plans to do the same, with the same equipment. This is a first: so far, Europeans and Westerners have only provided Ukraine with defensive weapons against Russian aggression. By considering that going beyond would risk appearing as fellow combatants, and therefore could in turn be attacked by Russia.

On April 9, the United Kingdom took over. Visiting Kiev, Boris Johnson announced the shipment of 120 armored vehicles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles with a range of 200 km. Offensive weapons again. the German government wonders about a possible delivery of tanks: he is additionally divided on the subject. And Joe Biden’s United States offers to supply suicide drones. As the days go by, the positions gradually evolve. We are not yet at the delivery of combat aircraft, as Poland had suggested for some time. But the topic of offensive weapons and heavy weapons is no longer a red line. And Kiev wants them, including latest-generation Western equipment, not just old Soviet weapons that the West wants to get rid of.

Two reasons explain this development. The first is military: the nature of war is about to change. The suspected Russian offensive on eastern Ukraine promises to be large-scale, with aerial bombardments and heavy artillery fire. On a fairly flat terrain that allows for rapid progress. Faced with this threat, small arms, which are widely used in the Kiev guerrilla war, will not suffice. Ukraine is therefore calling for tanks, anti-aircraft batteries and heavy artillery to maintain its positions. From a military point of view, it makes sense. The second explanation is political† Westerners are beginning to think that a message of greater determination needs to be sent to a Vladimir Putin who remains convinced of European softness. And then of course there is the risk that Moscow will want to go further and further in the event of a victory in eastern Ukraine. If we follow this line of reasoning, we must defeat Vladimir Putin right now. So delivery of heavy weapons.

At the same time, deliveries of lighter defensive weapons continue in very large numbers. First surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles: Javelins, Stingers, NLAWs, supplied by the thousands from the United States, Germany or the United Kingdom. Milan missiles supplied by France. S300 defense systems supplied by Slovakia. Turkish Bayraktar or American Switchblade drones. To stop the advance of tanks and the attacks of planes or helicopters at low altitude. And then also machine guns, pistols, body armor, night vision goggles. On all these materials “deliveries will intensify”, the head of German diplomacy Annalena Baerbock said on April 11. The statement is explicit.

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