By David Sole
An intense dispute among the imperialist western powers has been going on about whether to send main battle tanks to their Ukrainian proxies fighting against the Russian Federation. A meeting on January 20 of military leaders from 50 nations, of the “Ukraine Defense Contact Group,” was held at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Following the meeting it was reported that they had failed to agree on this one point, although, led by the United States, tens of billions of dollars worth of other military hardware has been, and continues to flow, to keep the Ukrainians fighting.
Pressure had been building for Germany to send its Leopard 2 heavy battle tanks to Ukraine. Germany, for its part, was looking for the U.S. to make the first move by sending the M1 Abrams tanks. The U.S. has not been open, as of now, to send this combat tank. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed the U.S. delegation to the Ramstein conference.
Perhaps Berlin is hesitant to have German tanks again rolling across Ukraine to engage the Russians in battle. The last time was in the early 1940s when Hitler’s Nazi regime invaded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That campaign for world domination cost tens of millions of Russian deaths. The tide of battle was turned, at great cost after the heroic defenses of Leningrad, Moscow and finally Stalingrad in 1942.
Attempting to regain the initiative, the Nazis launched a huge counter-offensive beginning in July 1943 in what became known as the Battle of Kursk. The Nazis were stopped and the Soviet Red Army counter-attacked in the largest tank battle in history. Each side had thousands of tanks which dominated the battlefield encounters. The defeat of the German tanks began the long retreat that ended with the Soviet capture of Berlin and the death of Hitler in May 1945.
On January 23 the Polish prime minister announced that Poland would funnel Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Having been manufactured by Germany, Poland is required to get Germany’s permission to ship Leopard 2s to a third party. But Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters “Even if we ultimately don’t receive permission, then, despite that, we’d transfer our tanks to Ukraine.” Ukraine is seeking “not 10 or 20, but several hundreds” of tanks according to Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s president Zelensky.
Retired Polish General Waldemar Skrzypczak proposed on January 19 that western nations housing Ukrainian refugees, which includes Poland, should forcibly draft the refugees into Ukrainian army units to be shipped to the front. The general was a former commander of the Polish Land Forces. This bizarre idea was accompanied by a sober analysis of the current military situation in neighboring Ukraine.
General Skrzzypczak stated “There is no military chance for Ukraine to win this war…Even 100 tanks will not change the situation…The Ukrainians will not defeat the Russians with a hundred Leopards.” Echoing what others have noted in this proxy war, the general said western military supplies allow Ukrainians “to fight but not win.” He asked whether “all Ukrainians are to die on the battlefield.”
The comparison with the Nazi tanks in Ukraine is not that much of a stretch. The Ukrainian government is heavily influenced by Nazi elements across the country and especially incorporated inside its military forces. One of the stated goals of the Russian Federation for its February 24, 2022 Special Military Operation into Ukraine was to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.
The newspaper Haaretz reported on January 2 that “Ukrainians march to celebrate anniversary of Nazi collaborator’s birthday.” The article continued “Thousands of Ukrainians marched through the streets of central Kiev holding torches to celebrate the 114th anniversary of Ukrainian nationalist hero Stepan Bandera’s birth.”
The Ukrainian parliament also chimed in its praise of the late pro-Nazi Ukrainian nationalist .
“Bandera was the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a far-right, ultra-nationalist Ukrainian militant group that collaborated with Nazis during World War II, fought against the Soviets, and perpetrated mass murders of ethnic Jews, Poles, and pro-Soviet Ukrainians. After World War II, Bandera was settled in West Germany and cooperated with Western intelligence services including MI6 in its anti-Soviet activities.”
It should be remembered that the collective imperialist west in the 1930s was ready to see Hitler’s Nazi Germany attack socialist Russia The Stalin-Hitler Pact of 1939 reoriented Hitler’s attack to the west, buying time for the USSR to prepare for the inevitable assault by the Germans. Today a united imperialist west, led by the U.S., is aiming to destroy a capitalist rival, the Russian Federation. It is most likely that German heavy tanks will not turn the tide, nor save Ukraine in the coming offensives.