The decision by President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to send heavily equipped infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine on Thursday marks a new phase in Western military assistance in the fight against Russia’s incursion.
Germany will transfer a cutting-edge Patriot missile system to Ukraine in order to support the United States in defending against Russian airstrikes.
The two leaders said that Germany would deploy Marder armored vehicles while the United States would send Bradleys, which typically have a 25 mm autocannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun, and anti-tank missiles. Each nation would also provide training.
In response to Russia’s assault, Biden and Scholz “reaffirmed their unshakeable sympathy with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” according to a joint statement.
Biden, speaking afterwards at a cabinet meeting, said that he agreed with Scholz to “increase the support for Ukraine.”
“Right now, the war in Ukraine is at a critical point,” Biden said. “We have to do everything we can to help the Ukrainians resist Russian aggression.”
The armored trucks would be a part of a bigger package of military support that would be announced during the next day, according to the Pentagon and State Department.
Despite not being tanks, the armored vehicles being delivered have “a degree of firepower and armor that will bring advantages on the battlefield,” according to Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder.
“It’s not a tank, but it’s a tank killer,” Ryder told reporters.
“We’re confident that it will aid them on the battlefield,” he said.
The United States could train Ukrainian forces on the Patriot system inside the United States.
“We’re exploring a variety of options to include potential training here in the US, overseas or a combination of both,” Ryder said.
The transfer of armored vehicles was approved, according to Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, in light of the fact that the eastern Donbas region is now part of the frontlines of the conflict, which has been going on for close to a year after Russia was unable to seize Kyiv as its capital.
According to Price, who spoke to reporters, the US is giving the Ukrainians “everything they need to protect themselves, depending in large part on where the conflict is currently.”
“Now that we are seeing fronts emerge and intensify in various parts including in the Donbas,” Price said, “there are certain systems including these fighting vehicles that the Ukrainians have requested and that we deem are appropriate to provide.”
Germany’s shipment of a Patriot system follows a similar announcement by the United States two weeks ago during a visit to Washington by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukraine has long advocated for more powerful weapons, such as tanks, that would enable it to launch an offensive. Western countries have been hesitant to send them due to concerns that they would get sucked into the conflict or provoke Russia.
However, the Ukrainians have gained strength, and Western countries have increased the amount of weapons they give to them.
The announcement comes a day after France pledged to provide its wheeled AMX-10 RC light tanks, which share the heavier cannon that is typical of tanks but are not tracked.
The French action increased political pressure on Scholz to assist Ukraine more.