Western leaders must hurry to make decisions on support for Ukraine. That’s what regular free agent Mart de Kruif says. He believes that the West should supply Kiev with heavier (offensive) weapons, especially tanks. “You have to make decisions now because the war starts again in about six weeks,” De Kruif says on Good Morning Netherlands.
A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said Britain wants to send tanks to Ukraine, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. This would make England the first country to do so. According to De Kruif, the pressure is increasing on other countries to follow the British example, but the doubt is particularly great in Berlin.
“Poland and Finland have also said they will supply. But what you don’t want is to get a hundred tanks in groups of ten. They all have their own ammunition, their own spare parts and their own training required. You want to keep it as simple as possible and you end up with the Leopard.” Because the tank is German-made, Berlin must authorize its use.
But there is disagreement in the German coalition about the delivery of tanks to Ukraine. Because of Germany’s wartime past, the SPD, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party, has traditionally been reluctant, says De Kruif “Die Grünen are in favor, the political discussion is now underway within the SPD”. These two parties together with the liberal FDP make up the coalition.
Time is running out, warns De Kruif. “It’s not like you give someone the keys to a tank and you can operate it. You have to train people.”
Although before the war in Ukraine the tank was considered by some experts as a weapon of the past, they are vital to Kiev. De Kruif: “Every war is decided on the ground because people live there. And war is between people, not between planes. Ukraine is very dependent on tanks.”
He emphasizes that Kiev is also completely dependent on Western support. “We see that this war has cost a lot of personnel and equipment. Russia can largely rebuild from its own arsenal. Ukraine has no industry and cannot. They are dependent on supplies from abroad.”
Earlier this week, Dutch Lieutenant General Nico Tak, who today takes command of NATO’s flash force on the Eastern Front, issued a similar appeal to Western leaders. “We give Ukraine enough things not to lose, but not enough to win,” he told De Telegraaf.
Thanks talk about “a dangerous gray area”. If the status quo persists for too long, Ukraine risks losing the war, he warned.
Russia shuffles cards
Meanwhile, the cards have been reshuffled at the Russian defense minister. Army Chief Valeri Gerasimov will be in charge of troops in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry announced in Moscow on Wednesday. His appointment was to make military operations in Ukraine “more effective”.
“This indicates the rumblings in the Kremlin,” replies De Kruif. “I don’t think they agree on how to go to war.” In Ukraine, the Chechens, the Wagner group, a Russian mercenary army and the Russian army are fighting on behalf of Russia. “It appears that their operations are misaligned.”
“Apparently Putin has now said: I will now give my head of the armed forces, because it is Gerasimov, the entire theater of Ukraine, with the authority to coordinate everything,” says De Kruif.
‘The war continues’
According to the retired general, Gerasimov is known as a supporter of Russian doctrine, the Russian way of thinking about warfare. “He is also a confidant of Putin. When you watch Putin on TV, you often see Gerasimov on the screen. His appointment means that Putin is trying to bend this war even more, because it is not going well.”
De Kruif does not see any light at the end of the tunnel to Ukraine for now. “In the coming year, we will continue to see a very tough war if the ground and the weather allow it.”
Defense expert: The West must supply Ukraine with offensive weapons
By: Peter Visser