NATO’s Message to Russia: “whatever new you bring to the front, we will respond with ours stronger”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine can be described from many angles. One of them, however, is the armament escalation, where both sides respond to the challenges and armament innovations of the “opposite”. Big difference here? The source of the equipment.

Initially Russia relies mainly on its own reserves and defense industries and then on a small circle of countries with which it maintains close relations. So we already know about the supply of drones from Iran, with the very likely supply of ammunition and other “Soviet”-era materials. We suspect North Korea of selling artillery ammunition from its own vast stockpiles (among the largest in the world, due to the local doctrine of sweeping bombing of South Korean border cities, including the capital Seoul). While very recently we also saw a T-90S Bhisma tank belonging (?) to India appearing – and being destroyed – in the Ukrainian fields, possibly either withheld from an Indian order or as a muffled supply of Moscow.

Big absent in Russia’s reinforcement? China, which has everything in terms of equipment to give and in abundance, but wisely does not. Because it has no reason to get involved in a “Western conflict” (that’s how it sees it), let alone to strain its relations with Europe and the US, which are also its biggest trading partners. In practice, China, seeing Russian deterioration, knows that it is indirectly benefiting, as Moscow is slowly leaving the international “power framework”. So the possibility that she herself will come to Beijing asking for help, military, economic and commercial, increases, with the corresponding dependencies following.

In Ukraine now, the sources of its military support are more and larger and offer it a panspermia of materials, which on the one hand sometimes provide the military advantage, on the other create a chaotic support problem.

The big news

Here we have the big news via a triple announcement to send Western tanks to Ukraine. Initially wheeled armored AMX-10 RC with 105 mm gun from France and then US Bradley IFVs and German Marder respectively. The latter two were announced as an “intent to send” in a phone call between US President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on January 5, with Germany saying it would also send Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to Kyiv, following a similar US commitment.

The French tank destroyer AMX-10 RC is the heaviest Western armored vehicle to arrive in Ukraine.

The message to Moscow and the “political” element of the announcement

Why this escalation now?
If you ask the Ukrainians, it’s still too late. As the government has been asking them for heavy tanks and western-made armor for months. Of course, they have received many Soviet-era T-72, T-64, T-55 tanks, mainly from Poland, which has almost run out of supplies, they have received a lot of armored combat vehicles and personnel carriers, among them the 40 Greek BMP-1.

The need there for strong armor comes from two causes. Initially due to heavy damage to theirs, after 10 months of fighting since they have to deal with the huge Russian stockpile which of course is also decreasing rapidly. The second reason, however, is that the Ukrainians are now hoping for a strong counterattack, probably in the South, in order to wrest a significant part of their occupied territories. Perhaps causing a serious shock to the Russian side, which will be forced to retreat en masse. So here they also need a quality advantage that the western material hopes to provide them.

But what is the West sending now?
Not the heavy tanks that the Ukrainians mainly want but the fairly modern Bradley and Marder armored fighting vehicles, as well as the French AMX-10 RC tank hunters. We still don’t know anything about the number of vehicles that will be sent as well as the schedule. And of course, how long it will take the Ukrainians to train in these unfamiliar systems. So this is where the “political” element of the announcement appears, before the transfer to the battlefield takes place.

Where the USA, Germany and France, i.e. the “Holy Trinity” of NATO’s power, give Moscow the message that “anything new you bring to the front, will be answered with our own material, increasingly heavy”. While Britain (all together make the “Holy Four” of NATO), hastened to declare a supporter if necessary, in the mission of tanks.

The same message has been delivered many times so far and in practice. For example, last quarter’s massive attack on Ukrainian cities with drones and cruise missiles brought massive influxes of Western anti-aircraft systems. IRIS-T missiles from Germany, NASAMS systems from USA, Norway, Netherlands, Hawk arrays from Spain and USA, now Patriot, as well as a bunch of man-portable anti-aircraft weapons, Gepard self-propelled guns from Germany, etc. Accordingly, the action of the Russian Black Sea fleet brought Harpoon missiles, while the use of Russian electronic warfare forces and large anti-aircraft radars for S-300 arrays, “triggered” the appearance of American HARM anti-radar missiles (which with a simple “patent” entered into Ukrainian MiG-29s, to everyone’s surprise).

Western tactics are now evident, both militarily and geopolitically

Ukraine here does not appear as a “Western pawn” and such a view is a very big mistake. The country’s citizens are making a historic defensive struggle, fighting for independence from invasion, now justified in their own nationalism and identity integration as “we are Ukrainians, because Russians are attacking us, breaking our great cultural and ethnic affinities”, and of course they require the help of the West.

If some insist on seeing Ukraine as a Western “puppet” then they succumb to the most superficial view of geopolitical development, that of colonial times. Where every international movement and action was interpreted as a clash of the “blocks of power” and without any participation and intervention of local societies and ethnicities. But this era has passed, there are now hundreds of international actors, states, organizations, coalitions, alliances, guerillas, terrorist groups, national and religious groupings, supranational associations, supralocal consents, which “make history”.

Yes, the supervision and attempt of the Great Powers has not stopped, but it has also been canceled many times in practice. So the USA has shamefully left Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia has also left Afghanistan, now it is vainly involved in Ukraine. The US rushed there because they saw the opportunity to diminish it, but only after the Ukrainians themselves proved their military and social presence and cohesion, by fighting hard.

Therefore, the sending of new weapons to Ukraine, both heavier and “western”, mainly signals the willingness of all participants, initially Ukrainians, then Westerners and obviously Russians, to continue the war for the time being. Each side hoping for a major victory, a pivotal turn in operations, a re-arrangement of the front.

And if this does not happen, at least to the exhaustion of the opponent, operationally or at the level of internal stability, so that he is forced to admit the futility of military development. Hence the necessity of a diplomatic solution which is already being studied behind the scenes, but which needs the fall of the “war curtain” to be accepted. With any imbalance in the distribution depending on the strengths and possibilities of compromise on both sides.

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