Russia: NATO war involvement ‘growing’ with arms to Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News
Russia says the supply of NATO battle tanks to Ukraine indicates “direct and growing” U.S. and European involvement in the war, with one analyst suggesting that the supplier countries could be potential targets.
The comments came after the US and Germany on Wednesday said they would equip Ukraine with dozens of heavy tanks to fight Russian forces.
“There are constant statements from European capitals and Washington that the sending of various weapons systems to Ukraine, including tanks, in no way means the involvement of these countries or the alliance in hostilities in Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. .
“We categorically disagree with this, and in Moscow everything that the alliance and the capitals I mentioned are doing is regarded as direct participation in the conflict. We see it growing.”
Kyiv is looking for hundreds of modern tanks to give its troops the firepower to break through Russian defensive lines and reclaim occupied territories in southern and eastern Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia mainly relied on Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
Russia, which started the war by invading Ukraine on February 24 last year, is increasingly portraying the conflict as a confrontation with NATO.
Sergei Karaganov, a former adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that NATO arms deliveries could lead to possible military retaliation against the supplying countries.
“By sending tanks, NATO countries are becoming more openly involved in the war, which makes them potential targets,” he told Al Jazeera.
“25 years of NATO expansion”
Karaganov also accused NATO of unleashing the conflict in Ukraine.
“This is not exactly a Russian-Ukrainian war, this is a Russian-Western war. Ukrainians are used as cannon fodder, and the leadership is mostly puppets. The West was advancing and preparing to attack Russia, and Russia decided to launch an open strike first. But it was 25 years of NATO expansion.”
Despite huge arms supplies from the West, Karaganov predicted a Russian victory.
“In the end, Russia will destroy the Ukrainian army, and the country will be completely demilitarized. The neo-Nazi regime will be finished there,” he said.
Experts disagree on how effective German Leopard 2 tanks and American Abrams tanks will be against Russian forces.
“Deliveries of Leopard 2 will bring our ground forces to a qualitatively new level,” said Ukrainian military analyst Oleg Zhdanov.
Despite being heavier than Soviet-designed tanks, the Leopard 2s have a strong advantage in firepower and survivability.
“One Leopard 2 could be the equivalent of three or five Russian tanks,” Zhdanov said.
But he noted that the promised number of Western tanks was only the minimum needed for Ukraine to fend off a possible Moscow offensive, adding that Russia had thousands of heavy armored vehicles.
“Kyiv is preparing for a defensive operation, and the further course of the conflict will depend on its outcome,” Zhdanov said.
Russian military analysts were more skeptical of NATO tanks, arguing that while the Abrams were clearly superior to the older Soviet-built models during the Iraq War, the new Russian models are closer to them. They also noted that the Leopard 2 tanks used by the Turkish army against the Kurds in Syria proved vulnerable to Soviet-era anti-tank weapons.
Andrey Kartapolov, a retired general who heads the defense committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, claims both the Leopard 2 and Abrams are inferior to the Russian T-90, a modified version of the T-72.
The newest Russian tank T-14 “Armata” was made in small quantities and has not yet been used in the war.
The United Kingdom Department of Defense said in its latest intelligence report that Russia was working on preparing a small batch of T-14s for deployment in Ukraine, but added that it had engine and other problems.
“Major Policy Change”
Russian observers, meanwhile, noted that it could take a significant amount of time for Western tanks to reach Ukraine, adding that training Ukrainians to use them and properly maintain them would exacerbate the problem.
“This probably means that the Ukrainian military will probably receive several small batches of tanks, which may not be compatible with each other,” Moscow-based military analyst Ilya Kramnik said in a comment.
Putin and his diplomats and military commanders have repeatedly warned the West that the supply of long-range weapons capable of striking deep into Russia would mark a red line and provoke massive retaliation.
Zhdanov argued that by agreeing to arm Ukraine with tanks, the West had overcome an important psychological barrier and could eventually provide Kyiv with even more deadly weapons.
“The transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine marks a major change in the policy of the Western allies, who have ceased to be afraid of escalation and are now ready to challenge Russia in a war for resources,” Zhdanov said.
“The West is forced to open the doors of its military arsenals wider for Ukraine.”
Ukrainian officials have long expressed hope that US F-16 fighter jets and long-range missiles for highly mobile artillery missile systems known as HIMARS will be able to hit targets far behind the front lines.
Such desires have prompted ominous remarks by Russian diplomat Konstantin Gavrilov, similar to those previously voiced by Putin and others.
“If Washington and NATO give Kyiv weapons to strike at peaceful cities deep in Russia and try to seize territories constitutionally belonging to Russia, this will force Moscow to take tough retaliatory actions,” Gavrilov said at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“Then don’t tell us we didn’t warn you.”