The Guardian • Issue #2041



Just 80 years after the end of World War II, German tanks are again threatening Russia.

At an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “The Battle of Stalingrad rightfully entered history as a fundamental turning point in the Great Patriotic War.”

Now Nazi ideology “again creates direct security threats” to Russia.

German Leopard tanks, bearing the same black crosses as their Nazi Panther predecessors, are now being sent to fight in Ukraine.

“There is again a plan to fight Russia on Ukrainian land using Hitler’s successors,” Putin said.

The Battle of Stalingrad ended in February 1943 with the surrender of the Nazi army. Almost half a million Soviet soldiers died in the battle.

Arguing in favour of sending tanks to Kiev, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said openly that EU countries are fighting a war against Russia.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, who was reluctant to send tanks to Ukraine, was forced to resign.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the West keeps admitting they have been planning the conflict for years.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted that the 2014 Minsk Agreement was actually a ploy to “give Ukraine valuable time” for a military build-up. Former French President Francois Hollande has confirmed this, while Ukraine’s leader at that time, Pyotr Poroshenko, openly admitted it as well.

Russia’s operation in Ukraine was a “forced and last-resort response to preparations for aggression by the US and its satellites,” former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said.

Mike Scrafton, a senior Australian Defence executive and chief of staff and adviser to a former minister for defence, says the supply of main battle tanks (MBTs) will commit the NATO allies to the war in a way that makes their involvement irreversible and could be effectively the first major step toward a war with Russia.

How decisive for the course of the war the provision of tanks will be depends on a number of factors; the number of vehicles, the skill with which the Ukrainians employ them (they are being trained in Poland), the establishment of supply lines to bring fuel and other materiel to the battlefront, the speed with which MBTs and their support could be delivered and on the rates of attrition and willingness and ability of nations to replace destroyed MBTs.

Kharkiv is 900 kilometres from Poland and Kherson 800 kilometres. Providing fuel and maintenance and the transport and refuelling tankers required to maintain these fossil-fuel guzzling war machines in high intensity operations will be a challenge.

Scrafton points out that after committing a limited number of tanks it will be almost impossible to resist Ukrainian demands for more if the first tranches are insufficient to achieve victory. It seems politically inconceivable that contributing states could resist Ukrainian demands for just a few more and then a few more.

And if tanks don’t bring victory, what follows? Advanced fighters and bombers? Aircraft carriers in the Black Sea? Ballistic missiles?

Scrafton concludes that the tanks are a poor strategic and geopolitical step. They will not bring the negotiations necessary to end this conflict any closer.

The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More