After months of discussion, the Germans have opted to allow the Leopard Tanks to be sent into Ukraine…and while it may seem like this resolution took far too long, anyone that has read a history book can at least understand the reason for the delay.
There are two main factors to understand in this situation. First, the Leopards within the countries near Ukraine can get there and into the fight for the spring offensive. That’s huge. Second, the Germans put a clause into their policy that states the Americans must also provide some of their tanks – the Abrams. That one’s a bit more problematic.
The Abrams is less tank and more “armored weapons system” – and some of those systems are still classified. On top of that, just imagine all the heavy lifting required to create Abrams-specific logistics and service infrastructure stretching from the USA to Ukraine…it’ll be a while before those Abrams hit Ukrainian soil in any useful manner.
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Hey everybody Peter Zeihan here coming to you from a hotel room where I am in a hurry to get ready for a presentation. I have to be mic’d up in 20 minutes, so we’re just going to do this as we go. The big news on the 24th of January is that we seem to have a deal between the Germans and everybody else in the Western Alliance about the Germans providing leopard tanks to Ukraine.
Now, this is a main battle tank. It is the primary battle tank for most members of the NATO Alliance. It is obviously German made and there are export clauses that you can’t share your tanks, your leopards, with anyone unless the Germans give it the official approval that has been withheld until this moment. The Germans have been saying that they don’t want to be the ones taking the lead on this and they will only provide leopard 2s in the instances where the Americans provide the Abrams battle tanks, which are the American primary system.
It appears that there has been a compromise between the Scholz government of Germany and the Biden government of the United States to do some version of that. Now, there’s a few things here. First of all, why the Germans have been so hesitant. I don’t know if you know your history, but the last couple of hundred years of history has not been well, based on your point of view, it doesn’t necessarily put the Germans in the best light.
And so the idea that the Germans would ever, in a peaceful environment, decide that they should take a leadership position on military affairs is something that is antithetical, not just to the German population in general, but the government of Scholz specifically. His party is the Social Democrats and they have basically made their bones in geopolitics about making sure that Germany is never an offensive power at all.
Now the Ukraine war is forcing everyone to reassess what ideology shapes strategy and vice versa. But the idea I got to say, the idea that the Germans are beyond hesitant to be a leader in military and affairs in Europe and in the former Soviet Union. This is a really smart move. If the Germans just started providing weapons to one side or another in any war, regardless of what you think of the belligerence, I think we should all get a little bit nervous.
So while the Ukrainians are the ones who are paying the price for this reticence and I can understand why they’ve been upset to this point, you’ve got to admit, if you take an honest look at history, this is an a-okay situation. The second issue has to do with the Americans, specifically the Abrams tanks themselves. Now the leopard’s – they’re good hardware.
I’m not going to tell anyone that German engineering, especially when it comes to weapons systems, isn’t top notch. The Abrams should be more accurately thought of as the pinnacle of armored equipment development. This is a system that is not merely a tank. It’s a weapons system that has several integrated programs within it, some of which the Americans still consider top secret.
So anything that the United States sends from its arsenal is going to honestly have to be dumbed down a significant amount, and that is going to, at a minimum, take time. There’s also a question whether or not these weapons are going to be getting to the Ukrainians in any sort of reasonable time. Now, in the case of the leopards, there are over a dozen countries in Europe that use them. And everyone except for the Germans has been arguing for sending these things for weeks now. So the leopards can actually be on the front lines in Ukraine probably within two or three or four months, which means that can actually make a difference in the coming spring offensive, which will happen in May and June. And so from the Ukrainian point of view, that is absolutely essential.
Now, from the American point of view, that is equally essential and is part of the reason why the Biden administration to this point has not provided the Abrams, because it is not battle ready in that way. Even if the Biden administration could just turn them over tomorrow, which it honestly can’t. No one in Europe at the moment operates Abrams at all.
And because so many systems on the Abrams are cutting edge and have not been replicated anywhere else in any country, the maintenance and supply, the logistical tail that’s necessary to operate. Abrams doesn’t exist anywhere in the world except for in the United States itself. So the United States does have to build facilities in Europe, probably some in Germany, certainly some in Poland, which is in the process of purchasing some Abrams, but that is going to have to stretch all the way to Ukraine. And if you want to talk about something that might cross a red line or two with the Russians, a NATO logistical tail going all the way back to the continental United States for everything from arming to repairs, we’re going to do a lot of gray areas there.
But most importantly, the infrastructure does not yet exist. But for the leopards, it’s right there. Not only is Germany the manufacturer, it’s operated by Finland, and the Balts and Poland. All countries that border the conflict zone. So you can get leopards on the field of battle very, very quickly. ABRAMS Even if the training requirements were identical, which they are not.
You’re talking a minimum of a year, probably closer to three, to build out the physical support and infrastructure to get an appreciable number. Abrams In play now, there’s some people who are saying, you know, you know, by getting an Abrams into Ukraine, that is a vote of confidence in the Ukrainians. Absolutely. That is a signal that the United States is not going to quit.
Absolutely. Those are relevant conversation points. But an Abrams in theater without that support infrastructure is a target that the Russians will try to take out. You do not use an Abrams battle tank for a photo op. You use it to ruin someone else’s photo op. So do we have a political deal now to get Abrams into Ukraine? Sounds like it. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be on the battlefield anytime soon. And that’s okay.
Alright. That’s it for me. Got to go. Bye.