The Epic Arsenal of Western Guns Coming for Putin This Year

The war that Vladimir Putin thought he would win in a matter of days is still raging after nearly a year, with both sides desperately seeking more equipment, soldiers, and international support. But Russia, it seems, may soon be in for a knock-out blow—courtesy of Ukraine’s friends in the U.S. and Europe.

Last week, Washington announced a new $3.8 billion arms package to Ukraine that included everything from sorely needed air defense systems to artillery shells. Most of Ukraine’s excitement, though, was reserved for the inclusion of the Bradley fighting vehicle, a capable armored vehicle that Ukraine has long sought to help reclaim land seized by Russia. The decision to finally send Bradleys signals that even more sophisticated weapons systems, including tanks, might be just over the horizon.

The line of what systems are “too escalatory” to send to Ukraine has constantly been moving in Ukraine’s favor, with weapons thought to be too escalatory at the start of the war now either on their way or on the table. The U.S. and other countries have sent artillery to Ukraine throughout the conflict, but non-Soviet tanks and infantry fighting vehicles—IFVs for short—were an informal red line until just recently.

It’s not just the U.S. that’s changing its mind about what’s appropriate to send. Over the past few weeks, Germany promised to send 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles. German and American IFVs are in various states of modernization, but they will still make a big difference, as both Russia and Ukraine are currently using a mishmash of IFVs that include much older equivalents.

The biggest question is the provision of modern American and European tanks. Eastern European countries like Poland and Czechia have delivered hundreds of Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine throughout the war. The Ukrainians have made good use of donated tanks, but have consistently asked for the more modern tanks made by the U.S., Germany, and others.

Though Europe has been reticent about sending tanks, the tide might be turning, with both the German-made Leopard 2 and the British-made Challenger 2 on the table. France already promised the AMX-10RC, which is more comparable to a tank destroyer, but has fallen short of promising its own main battle tank, the Leclerc.

The Leopard 2 is considered the most viable candidate among western tanks. Even if Germany itself doesn’t send any, other European countries from Spain to Finland can field them, and countries that can’t spare Leopards can still send spare parts.

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