BRUSSELS – They will soon be covered in mud, shrapnel and fires on the battlefields of Ukraine. But three new types of armored vehicles presented to Ukraine this week signal that the Western allies are gearing up for another bloody year as the war enters a new phase of the Ukrainian offensive against Russian forces.

Not surprisingly, the Ukrainian government is upbeat: “The time for the taboo of weapons has passed,” said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in a Facebook post welcoming the new lethal equipment.

Russia is furious: The new vehicles are “another step towards escalating the Ukrainian conflict,” the embassy in Berlin said in a statement.

And frontline soldiers are cynical, often complaining that when allies aren’t letting them lose, they aren’t letting them win either.

But the new weapons mark a policy shift in Washington, Paris and Berlin, giving more lethal support to Ukrainian infantry, indicating less concern about Russian escalation and angling for a more decisive Ukrainian victory in 2023.

German foreign policy analyst Ulrich Speck said, “The tripartite decision clarifies Western support for Ukraine for a possible offensive in the coming months.” “And it signals to Moscow that we are not on the path to peace talks any time soon.”

Mr Speck said the decision reflected a “temperature change” in major Western capitals and “a reduction in the fear factor, a feeling that a weakened Russia is less able or willing to move”.

French AMX-10s, German Marauders and US M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles will enter the war on the heels of two successful Ukrainian offensives that pushed Russian forces from the country’s northeast and south.

The new vehicles, known as infantry, or armored, fighting vehicles, are almost certainly meant to lead any future effort to push the Russians out of Ukraine.

Rob Lee, a military analyst at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said, “The Ukrainians plan to conduct more offensive operations against Russian positions, so getting the infantry fighting vehicles closer to the defensive positions is critical. “

The new equipment will arrive in due course. Ukraine’s Soviet-era vehicles reflecting the capabilities of the AMX, M2 and Marder have been gradually destroyed and damaged after more than 10 months of bloody fighting, according to Ukrainian soldiers and a US official.

But if not shipped in large numbers, recent armored additions will change little on the wider battlefield and add to Ukraine’s growing logistical burden, as Ukrainian mechanics struggle with a diverse fleet of vehicles, each of which have their own parts and ammo requirements.

The trio of vehicles are not the first armored vehicles sent to Ukraine by the West, but they are arguably the most advanced, occupying a class of war machines that are not quite armored personnel carriers, though some can carry troops, and Not enough tanks.

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The AMX-10 has a 105 mm cannon. The M2 Bradley can be armed with a 25-millimeter cannon and an anti-tank guided missile. Marder is usually fitted with a 20-millimeter gun. The three different vehicles use different types of ammunition, meaning more of a logistical headache for Ukrainian troops using them. The French runs on bigger tyres; Walks on others.

But both the Bradley and the Marder can carry troops, making them vital to any future Ukrainian offensive operations, a front line against Russia’s defenses that stretches for more than 600 miles and has recently Over the weeks, it stabilized after being reinforced by mostly newly mobilized troops. ,

Ukraine has been regularly pressing its Western allies for more sophisticated infantry equipment, including armored infantry fighting vehicles and top Western tanks such as the American Abrams and the German Leopard II.

But Washington, Paris and Berlin have been cautious, trying to provide the weapons Ukraine really needs and is able to maintain, while also keeping a watchful eye on the depth of their own sometimes meager stockpiles. Huh.

US officials have argued that Ukraine has a good enough number of Soviet-era T-72 tanks, although they are short of ammunition. The Americans and Germans argue that to train Ukrainians to operate modern Leopard or Abrams tanks – and to maintain them in the field – would take several months. The logistics chain needed for a fuel-guzzling tank like the Abrams is also extensive, added a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss strategic matters.

Currently, the Ukrainian military is using its Soviet-era tanks more in a supporting role, keeping them behind the lines and employing their large main guns as artillery. They often rely on armored personnel carriers to quickly move troops in offensive maneuvers.

On Friday, the Biden administration announced a new $3 billion package of military aid for Ukraine that includes Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which officials said are special for Ukrainian units fighting Russian forces in the Donbass region east of the country. Will be really helpful. The administration said it would send 50 Bradleys. Germany has said it will provide 40 murders.

The German coalition government, led by the Social Democratic chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has been particularly careful to draw a line between defensive weapons, such as the Gepard mobile antiaircraft vehicles that have tank trades, and weapons that can be used by offensive infantry. Can be used to fight, such as Murder and Leopard. Berlin has said it would not be the first NATO ally to supply such weapons to Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a similar stance, if more quietly. But on Wednesday, after consultations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr Macron suddenly announced that France would supply Ukraine with its AMX-10 – an infantry fighting vehicle with wheels, not tank tread, Which has been in service since the 1980s and is being phased out since the 1980s. French army.

A NATO diplomat said on Friday that France, Germany and the United States were discussing providing Ukraine with such vehicles, including the American Bradley and the German Marder, but Mr. declare.

On Thursday, after a conversation between President Biden and Mr. Scholz, the Germans said, the Americans and Germans consulted and announced their own decision to supply the Bradleys and the Murderers, satisfying the German position that Berlin was a Ukraine will not be the first to supply a new category of Western weapons.

Germany also announced that it would supply Patriot missile batteries to Ukraine in addition to the batteries it supplied to Poland – and which it had initially refused to offer directly to Ukraine. That taboo has also been broken now.

“This is another step forward for Germany, which has been moving forward one step at a time since February 24,” said Ulrike Franke, a German defense expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Ukraine has been seeking these weapons since April, he said, but for Germany “it was a self-imposed prohibition.” In Berlin, “we keep having these slightly absurd debates — offensive versus defensive, light versus heavy, modern versus old — and then a few months later we change our lines again,” she said. It’s a significant development, “in the mostly German imagination,” she said.

But it is also a bad look for Franco-German relations, she said, adding that either Berlin needs a push from Paris or the two countries cannot work well together, with Mr. – Evacuating.

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from New York. Eric Schmidt, John Ismay, Lara Jakes, Natalia Yermak, Cassandra Winograd and Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

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