Ukrainian forces blast apart advancing Russian tanks
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The small Eastern European nation with a population of 2 million people has reportedly already sent eight tanks to Ukraine. Now, the country has pledged to send more, although its Ministry of Defence has not specified the number. The ministry said in a statement: “Taking into account this situation and the requirements of the Ukrainian defence ministry, the Government has decided that a certain quantity of these (tank) capacities will be donated to Ukraine, in line with its needs.”
The T-72 tanks reportedly belong to the so-called third generation of main battle tanks from the 1970s and 1980.
While the number of tanks has not been specified, it has been reported that there are 31 vehicles of this type in service with the army of North Macedonia
According to Thomas Theiner, a former member of the Italian army: Macedonia is sending more tanks than France, Germany and Italy combined.”
While Germany has now pledged to send 16 BIBER bridge-layer tanks to Ukrainian forces, it marks a major U-turn on German Chancellor Olf Sholz’s position.
But these will reportedly only “enable Ukrainian troops to cross waters or obstacles in combat”, as the tanks are equipped with a horizontal bridge laying system instead of a turret.
Instead of sending tanks directly to Ukraine, Mr Scholz had promised a tank-swap scheme.
Under the scheme, Mr Scholz pledged to replace tanks sent to Ukraine by European allies with Germany’s own supplies.
But Berlin is finding it difficult to implement many of these deals, triggering a delay in tank deliveries to Ukraine.
This is despite Germany possessing two powerful tanks, the Leopard battle tank and the Marder.
And while pressure has been piled on Mr Scholz to send tanks to Ukraine directly, the Chancellor fears the move would provoke Russia and escalate the conflict.
But Germany has sent 30 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.
However, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has claimed that these are not tanks in the traditional sense as a government list of military support for Ukraine only defines the weapons as a “self-propelled anti-aircraft gun.”
But Germany is not the only nation refusing to send Ukraine traditional tanks.
French President Emmanuel Macron said: “We help Ukraine defend itself, but we do not enter the war against Russia. Therefore, it was agreed not to supply certain weapons, such as assault aircraft or tanks, and President Zelensky is aware of this agreement”
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In April, the Czech Republic became the first NATO country to supply Ukraine with tanks.
The German Government has also promised to send 15 Leopard 2 tanks to the Czech Republic in return, as part of the tank-swap scheme. But so far, this has not happened.
Ben Hodges, former commanding general of the U.S. Army in Europe said: “The tank is not just a rental car. Whenever you’re talking about transferring any sort of mechanized or armoured vehicles, you have to also think about spare parts, maintenance packages, training, fuel, ammunition … to make sure they can keep things running.”
Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, of the Bundestag defence committee, has urged Mr Scholz to drop his policy and start sending tanks to Ukraine directly.
She said: “We have to be brave and say: ‘Guys, let’s drop it and deliver directly to Ukraine.’”
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