By Jeff Louderback
During a call between President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz on Jan. 5, the two leaders discussed “their common determination” to provide continued support to Ukraine for its war with Russia, a White House statement reported.
“To this end, the United States intends to supply Ukraine with Bradley Fighting Vehicles [BFVs], and Germany intends to provide Ukraine with Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Both countries plan to train Ukrainian forces on the respective systems,” according to the statement.
On Dec. 29, Biden signed the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that includes $45 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. The aid announced on Jan. 5 represents the first part of the package.
Biden told reporters earlier this week that he was considering providing Ukraine with armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked the United States for them.
On Jan. 4, France announced it will send its AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
Germany also said on Jan. 5 that it will join the United States in providing an American-made Patriot air defense system.
Last month, the White House announced that the United States would send a Patriot air defense battery to support Ukraine’s war effort.
“In light of Russia’s ongoing missile and drone attacks against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, President Biden and Chancellor Scholz affirmed their intention to further support Ukraine’s urgent requirement for air defense capabilities,” the White House statement said regarding sending the Patriots.
Zelenskyy on Jan. 4 thanked France for the AMX-10 and implored other allied countries to send tanks and other heavy weapons.
Before the announcement by Biden and Schulz, Ukraine’s defense ministry said that France’s contribution will move Ukraine closer to victory, “especially when the AMX-10 RCs are joined by their American and, we believe, German peers.”
U.S. officials told reporters that sending the infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine could eventually lead to supplying that nation with Western tanks, which are deemed more mobile and accurate and have longer ranges than the old Soviet tanks the Ukraine military currently uses.
Ukraine has pleaded for more infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, and other weapons to help stop Russian assaults on cities and civilian infrastructure.
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is not a tank, but it is an armored vehicle that moves on tracks and features a free-turning turret and mounted weapons.
It has a main gun that is smaller than the U.S.-made M1 Abrams tank, which results in a firing range of 82,000 feet for the M1 Abrams compared to 22,000 feet for the Bradley.
“The ‘Brad’ is not a tank, but it can be a tank killer,” retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who is a former commanding general of the U.S. Army in Europe, posted on Twitter.
On Jan. 3, Zelenskyy said that Russia is mobilizing for a new major offensive early this year. In December, Ukraine’s top military leader, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said that he thinks Russia could try to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as soon as January.
“There is no rational reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with Western tanks,” Zelenskyy said.