Der SpiegelDer Spiegel

Tank deliveries could mark turning point in war

By Ann-Dorit Boy; Christina Hebel; Oliver Imhof; Maximilian Popp; Christoph Reuter

30 Jan 2023 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

Could the German Leopard 2 and U.S.A's Abrams tanks give Ukraine an advantage on the battlefield? Der Spiegel addresses the opportunities, challenges and possible Russian response to this development.

It's the end of January, and the industrial city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine can only be reached by a few roads. The threat of being surrounded by Russian troops is ever present. Driving on one of these narrow country roads through the hilly landscape, the thunder of detonations already in your ears, you can make out some of the Ukrainians' old T-72 tanks between the trees – none of Panzerhaubitzer 2000 or Gepard air defense tanks sent by Germany, no American HIMARS multiple rocket launchers. That's not surprising given that, statistically, there is only one of these Western-supplied devices for every 10 or 20 kilometers of front lines?

Instead, a gun on wheels appears from behind an embankment, looking as if it had rolled out of a period film: a 57-millimeter caliber cannon, dating back to the end of World War II and mounted on trucks dating from the 1960s. Target control is adjusted from a delivery van, on whose roof a Starlink satellite link maintains contact with the reconnaissance unit that launches drones.

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