Russia expressed fury on Wednesday over plans by Western nations to send tanks to Ukraine, saying previous “red lines” were now “a thing of the past.”
The statement online from the Russian embassy in Germany comes after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed on Wednesday that Germany would send an initial shipment of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow other nations to send their own.
It also came as the Biden Administration was set to announce that the U.S. would send somewhere between 30 and 50 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. President Biden was scheduled to deliver remarks on continued support for Ukraine at 12pm Eastern Time.
The U.S. and Germany had been in a standoff over sending their tanks, with Germany saying last week it would not send any of its Leopards to Ukraine unless the U.S. sent some Abrams tanks.
Meanwhile, Germany has also given Poland the okay to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, as well.
The statement from Russia’s embassy in Berlin called the German government’s decision “extremely dangerous” and said it “takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation.”
Russia has repeatedly warned the West against sending tanks to Ukraine, saying they would be a legitimate target for Russian forces—like other NATO weaponry—and would make any prospect of peace talks even less likely.
However, it’s unclear whether the tanks would be a game-changer for the Ukrainian military, which is struggling to regain ground against momentum by Russia in the eastern Donbas region.
It’s not even clear when any of these tanks will be field ready, once delivered to Kyiv. The U.S. is arranging for the contracting of the tanks with their manufacturer, which could take up to a year. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the German Ministry of Defense has told CNN that while its army has some 320 Leopard tanks in its possession, she has not revealed how many would be battle ready.
“There is not a particular weapon system that is a silver bullet—a balance of all systems is needed,” U.S. Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told reporters last week. “A tank comes down to a balance between firepower, mobility and protection,” he said, referring to these as “the holy trinity of capabilities.”