With less than a month before the Russian invasion of Ukraine marks its first anniversary, and following months of indecision, German and US governments have announced that they will send a handful of tanks to Ukrainian forces.
By Daniel Sugasti
Berlin pledged to “quickly” send some 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks. This armored vehicle, manufactured by the German company Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann, entered service in 1979, but due to its permanent updating, it is considered one of the most modern and capable in the world in terms of armor, power, firing range, and mobility.
Washington, for its part, will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine and will train Ukrainian soldiers in a third country in their use and maintenance. The shipment, however, will take “several months.” Additionally, there are a number of difficulties that come with the fact that these are very sophisticated weapons that demand logistical support and maintenance that are difficult to sustain. For example, unlike the diesel-powered Leopard 2, the Abrams require aviation fuel, which is much more expensive.
The United Kingdom will contribute 14 Challenger 2 tanks. Other countries such as Spain, Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Portugal have expressed their willingness to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, following authorization from the German government. But most of these countries have not specified either quantities or delivery times. France, for its part, is still studying the shipment of Leclerc tanks.
Predictably, the decision by the West to supply tanks to reinforce the Ukrainian defense, was met with a harsh response by Russia, not only in diplomatic and propagandistic terms. Russia launched at least 55 missiles and 24 Iranian drones on basic infrastructure in Odessa, Zaporiyia and Kiev. At least 11 people were killed.
Resemblances between Putinism and Pacifism
Putin’s defenders, among them many Stalinist and/or Castro-Chavist parties and intellectuals, have not missed the opportunity to suggest that the sending of tanks and military aid is proof that the imperialist nations who make up NATO are the ones plotting an attack against “anti-imperialist” Putin.
This thesis, as we have explained in previous articles, is unfounded. Yet, it continues to be repeated ad nauseam by this political sector in order to justify the invasion of Ukraine, and with it the atrocities committed by the Russian occupiers of a much smaller and weaker country.
We are facing a brutal aggression motivated by the desire to conquer and destroy a nation historically oppressed by successive Russian governments, including Tsarism, Stalinism and Putin’s dictatorial regime, with the exception of the first years of the Russian Revolution. Let us not forget that Putin insists that Ukraine should not exist.
This is why the Ukrainian people’s struggle, in which the working class and large organized contingents of the civilian population have participated in a number of ways, regardless of the bourgeois, pro-imperialist and corrupt character of the Zelensky government, is a legitimate, necessary cause, a “just war.” This is why it demands international solidarity and all the necessary material support. It is, on the Ukrainian side, a war of national liberation. This is the war’s true character.
This is why the position of a wide range of intellectuals and pacifist organizations, who oppose the “war” in general, is wrong and reactionary.
This apparently “neutral” position actually favors the Russian invaders, who are the stronger force on the belligerent side of the conflict. This is the case even when pacifists, on the one hand, condemn Russian aggression and claim Ukraine’s right to sovereignty, while on the other hand they oppose the shipment of arms to the ill-equipped Ukrainian side. This position is clearly inconsistent: how, in the midst of an invasion, can the Ukrainians defend their sovereignty without the necessary weapons?
It is not necessary to be an expert in military science to understand that in the context of war this position only contributes to the defeat of the weaker country.
Pacifism, whether or not it assumes pro-Ukrainian rhetoric, when it rejects the arms Ukraine needs to repel the invasion and, instead, relies on a distant and unproductive diplomatic solution, plays into the hands of Putin’s interests. In the meantime Putin’s army occupies and relentlessly shells Ukrainian cities.
It is important to note that those from the left who justify Putin’s war or assume a pacifist position, in practice coincide with the most recalcitrant defenders of the global ultra-right, such as Steve Bannon or Donald Trump. The latter expressed his opposition to the sending of tanks in the following terms: “First come the tanks, then the nuclear weapons”. We must understand that the “no weapons for Ukraine” policy, in fact unifies the pacifists with the Putinists, and with a wide range of the international ultra-right.
For our part, since the beginning of the Russian invasion we have positioned ourselves unequivocally for the defeat of Putin and the military victory of Ukraine, without placing an iota of confidence in the Zelensky government or NATO imperialisms.
As a result, we demand that all governments deliver heavy defensive and offensive weapons, including tanks, combat aircraft and state-of-the-art military technology, without any conditions whatsoever. And further, that they be used by Ukrainians themselves, either those enlisted in the regular army or in the various worker and popular resistance groups.
The Ukrainian people are the real protagonists of this war. With too little, and in spite of a corrupt and conciliatory government, they are managing to defend their sovereignty against a far superior military force. Let us imagine what would be possible if these people were well armed. The way out is to expand their role in the conflict, encouraging the organization and mobilization of the workers and the people inside Ukraine.
The way out will not come through pacifism nor through requests for imperialist intervention. Beginning with the rejection of NATO and its interests, which must be dissolved, we demand that those governments send the heavy weapons and necessary war material, without conditions, for Ukraine to win the war.
The above position is the opposite of the policy currently being implemented by the US and the European Union gathered under NATO.
Since Ukraine was invaded by Moscow, Western imperialisms have engaged in rhetorical declarations of support for Kiev. The pressure of the fierce Ukrainian resistance and of their own people have forced them to send money, weapons, and military equipment, but in dribs and drabs, often in poor condition and in unspecified quantities.
The slow and limited shipment of arms corresponds to the policy of pressuring Putin, but without cornering him, much less strangling him, in order to seek an eventual negotiation in which the respect for Ukrainian territorial integrity is not guaranteed.
This policy explains the latest decisions of the imperialists. The boasted shipment of tanks to Ukraine is, like the other war supplies, slow and insufficient.
The Ukrainian forces, which are fighting in inferior conditions before the second most powerful army on the planet, have old tanks from the Soviet period, mostly T-72.
The fleet of battle tanks, promised by NATO member countries, although necessary, is not enough to change the course of the war. To win the war Ukraine needs much more.
The imperialists pledge around 60 tanks, while Kiev is asking for no less than 300 units.
According to defense analysts, although Western tanks are much more modern than their Ukrainian and Russian counterparts, in a counteroffensive they could only tip the balance in large-scale operations. Moreover, in operational terms, any mechanized offensive depends on the effective combination of other weapons, such as heavy artillery and, above all, strong air cover, something Ukraine is not in a position to guarantee. It does not do much good to send tanks but not fighter planes.
Volume, in the present situation, will be decisive. Yet other factors are key too. For instance, until the tanks can be reconditioned, since many of them, such as those promised by the Spanish State have been out of service for a decade, and the logistics can be fine-tuned, as well as the necessary training completed, it may take months or even a year for the Leopard 2, Abrams, or Challenger tanks to actually enter combat.
Even the very “fast shipment” of the first 14 German Leopard 2s would take about two to three months.
Timing is another key factor as both Ukraine and Russia prepare their spring-summer offensives. Both forces aim to break the current “stalemate,” and whichever one strikes first will have the advantage of upsetting the enemy’s plans.
Thus, almost a year after the beginning of the invasion, the main task continues to be the defeat of Russia’s occupying forces. There is no room for taking a neutral position. It is crucial to expel Putin’s troops from Ukrainian territory, recover all the territories that have been occupied since February 2022, in addition to Crimea which was annexed in 2014.
But as we explained, the policies of imperialism and the Ukrainian oligarchy, translated onto the battlefield, do not aim at a resounding victory for the Ukrainian people over Putin.
Only by supporting the Ukrainian resistance can NATO and Zelensky be exposed.
The Ukrainian people are fighting for victory. But Zelensky cannot be trusted, as he is the central element in a government at the service of the oligarchs who have taken advantage of the war situation to impose ever harsher conditions on the working class. These actions undermine the resistance. Moreover, many Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs are enriching themselves through gross acts of corruption in supplying the troops and other war-related businesses.
Because of its class character, the Zelensky government is deeply pro-imperialist and, sooner or later, will betray the struggle of its own people.
We have no confidence whatsoever in U.S. and European imperialisms (NATO), who will not tolerate a genuine victory of the exploited of Ukraine against Putin. The imperialisms are preparing a negotiated exit, where the option of dividing the country is not ruled out. That is why they refuse to send the necessary quality and quantity of weapons. That is why they do business with Putin. Although there is an EU policy to reduce Russia’s energy dependence, the fact is that, in 2022, Moscow increased its crude oil exports by 7% and its revenues from oil and gas sales by 28% . In the midst of the war, countries such as Spain increased their purchases from Russia by 141%. They do not want Putin to be defeated. That is why they continue to impose isolated and soft sanctions, which do not threaten the heart of the economy and the Russian oligarchy’s war machine.
Weapons for the Ukrainian resistance!
It is imperative that we demand the necessary weaponry and military technology be sent to Ukraine to defeat Putin. In addition to the HIMARS multiple missile launcher system, the Ukrainians demand MGM-140 ATACMS missiles with a range of 300 kilometers. The Ukrainians are also asking for F-15, F-16, and A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jets (specifically for infantry air support). Without these aircraft, it is impossible to control Ukrainian airspace.
Ukraine has proved that victory is possible. The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the second half of last year hit the occupiers hard. In addition to the liberation of Kherson, which occurred on November 11, Ukrainian troops regained 54% of the territory that Russia had seized since February 2022. The recapture of Kherson, the only regional capital taken by the Russians had a momentous political and military impact.
Ukrainians are demonstrating that the Russian war machine can be defeated, and with it a major collaborator in world counterrevolution can be weakened.
But, to win the war much more support is needed. The campaign “Weapon’s for Ukraine for Putin’s military defeat” needs to be intensified and taken up by all trade unions and workers’ organizations. The world working class must embrace the Ukrainian cause. Putin’s defeat will be a victory for the international working class. This is the significance, for example, of the two international convoys sent by the International Trade Union Network, in which the CSP-Conlutas of Brazil participated, to bring active solidarity, political, and material aid to working class sectors of the local resistance.
The IWL will continue to be in the first line of support for the Ukrainian people. We will also continue to support and show solidarity with those persecuted and imprisoned in Russia for opposing Putin’s war.
We insist that only by supporting the Ukrainian resistance can NATO, the US, the EU and Zelensky’s own oligarchic government, who have been incapable of facing the struggle against the Russian aggressor to its final consequences, be fought and exposed.
Workers of the world, unite in support of the Ukrainian resistance!
For the defeat of the Russian troops!
Weapons for the Ukrainian people!
Long live the Ukrainian resistance!
No trust in the USA, EU, NATO!
For the dissolution of NATO!
 According to the United Kingdom, in December, Russia controlled 18% of the Ukrainian territory recognized by the international community.: https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1602290939023728640