Russo-Ukrainian War Updates (2023-01-25)

The Tank Saga continues. U.S. closer to approving ‘significant number’ of Abrams tanks to Ukraine. It seems US is telling Germany it’s in the process of approving a few dozen of M1 Abrams MBT’s for UA. This will force Germany’s hand, that previously linked the supplies of German Leopard-2 tanks to US tank supplies, to finally approve the supply of its tanks (on company, or ~14 units, according to some sources).

According to the Politico’s article, the M1 tanks will most likely not come from US military stocks but from new production. If true, that would mean a delay of any number of months or years before the first tanks could actually be supplied. For example, Poland is awaiting the delivery of its new M1 Abrams tanks starting in 2024. On the other hand, it is more likely in my opinion, that UA will not get the latest models of M1 Abrams, but instead will be provided with older variants. I would assume US can make an arrangement with Poland for it to transfer some of its used M1 tanks it ordered from the US, in exchange for the US government to provide more newly build Abrams tanks to the Polish Army. The Polish made a deal for 116 US Abrams tanks, deliveries of which were expected to start until the end of 2022. Those can be transferred to UA in the most expedient manner.


Ukraine official had announced what 12 EU countries have approved to supply about 100 Leopard-2 tanks in total, given the Germany’s approval for re-export. As Germany said it will have no objections for re-export of its Leopard-2 tanks to UA, this seems like a done deal. Additionally, the German Chancellor announced the supply of 14 Leopard-2 tanks from the German Army. I don’t expect France to actually supply its Leclerc tanks to UA, but it seems US is willing to do so, supplying up to 50 Abrams tanks as early as this year. Which means UA will receive a 2-3 armor brigades worth of main battle tanks. This will make a difference on tactical and (to lesser extend) on operational level, but not on strategic level. Taking into consideration previous Ukrainian losses in heavy armor and logistical nightmare of supporting two new types of Western tanks, this is not nearly enough to shift the balance into Ukraine’s favor. At best it will match the current Russian production of ~200 T-90M a year, if reported numbers are to be believed. In addition, Russia is also refurbishing and upgrading its T-72 tanks into B3M variant, which makes it similar in capabilities to T-80 or T-90. I don’t take into account the refurbishment of older models like T-62 or T-55, since they shouldn’t realistically be put against T-72, M1 Abrams or Leopard-2 class tanks.

Looking farther ahead, Germany has dozens of Leopard-2 and many dozens of Leopard-1 tanks in industry’s storage. Those can be potentially refurbished and supply to UA in the span of a few years. Given Germany’s very small (relative to its role in Europe and the size of its economy) operational tank force, it’s unlikely they could donate any more for the war cause, unless they are willing to start disbanding their active tank units. Poland will receive some used M1 Abrams tanks during the next few years, while the newly build ones will start arriving farther down the road. UK and France, like Germany are in no position to send any significant number of tanks to UA, given they have no active production lines for those tanks. Only US in in position to release M1 Abrams tanks from its storage or reserve units, and to produce new ones. But, given the tensions in Asia region and commitment to protect Taiwan, Japan, South Korea etc., their willingness to supply more than a few hundred Abrams tanks in the next few years is also unlikely. Unless Europe and US are willing to restore or expand their tank production lines (a costly and time-consuming endeavor), the disbalance of heavy armor in the war will continue in Russian favor, until UA will be left with no heavy armor to speak of in a matter of few short years. Yet it is unlikely UA will be able to politically and economically survive another few years of this war. Much more likely the West will switch to pushing for a diplomatic solution, trying to freeze the conflict until NATO members weapon stocks can be resupplied and its militaries reinforced.


The political cleansing and personnel reshuffle in UA are signs of a crisis. The reasons remain unknown, but it is happening at the same time as Russian forces are taking initiative along the Zaporozh’e and Donbass frontline. While we are still haven’t seen the large Russian offensive, it is generally expected to start soon. For now, the main progress consistently made is in Artemovsk (Bakhmut) area, and it is only of a tactical level so far.


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