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Nato’s alliance against Russia is starting to crack

How many divisions does the Pope have? Stalin demanded. The same question should be asked today about NATO. But this time the differences are diplomatic and political rather than measured by military muscle.

The leading NATO powers have pledged to send main battle tanks to support Ukrainian forces against any breakthrough from any new Russian offensive this spring and launch a concerted mobile counterattack.

In total, the Ukrainian command expects to receive up to 300 main battle tanks from NATO and other allies.

It will take time to train the crews, establish supply chains for ammunition and spare parts. Their appearance on the lines around the Donbass is expected no earlier than the end of March.

To make them truly effective, they need to be part of a combined arms plan – that means moving with armored infantry, close artillery, and air support that includes rockets and attack helicopters.

Germany, Great Britain and the United States refused the offer to supply strike aircraft. It is argued that heavy weapons and systems “that could strike at Russia” should be avoided due to fears that the escalation would further provoke Moscow.

There is a certain logic to this in the sophisticated reasoning and calculations of diplomacy. But from the point of view of military realism, this is dangerous sophistry. This risks depriving the Ukrainian commander of the necessary tools if they are to continue fighting, to survive, let alone count on victory.

Look closely and you will begin to see divisions and cracks in the alliance. German Chancellor Scholz is calling for restraint, suggesting that Berlin open a line of negotiations with Moscow. Turkish President Erdogan claims the same role for himself as the Pentagon and the state in Washington. Where does President Zelensky appear? Do they plan to ignore him like Trump and Biden ignored Ashraf Ghani, the elected president of Afghanistan, when their failed diplomacy allowed the Taliban to enter Kabul?

Last week, Italy struck big gas and energy development deals with Libya and Algeria, clients and friends of Putin’s Russia. It is a bold example of post-Ukrainian military planning, a masterful example of self-service diplomacy.

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