WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A Russian spokesman said that Western nations’ tank pledges to Ukraine proves their direct involvement in the conflict.
- Another Russian official accused NATO member countries of waging a “proxy war against Russia and its allies.”
- Russian military experts acknowledged that the Western tanks are a threat, but not a game-changer.
Russia said that the Western nations’ pledge to deliver tanks to Ukraine only proves their direct and growing involvement in the conflict.
Germany and the United States had announced on Wednesday that they will be providing Leopard 2 tanks and Abrams tanks to Ukraine to help with their long-term defense against Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russian authorities “categorically disagree” with Western statements claiming that such provisions do not mean “involvement of these countries or the alliance in hostilities in Ukraine.”
“In Moscow, everything that the alliance and the capitals I mentioned are doing is seen as direct involvement in the conflict,” Peskov continued. “We see that this is growing.”
U.S. President Joe Biden said that the tanks will only help Ukrainians “improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain” and will not pose an “offensive threat” to Russia.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the tanks will form a “fist of freedom” that will break Russian defense and reclaim occupied territory in the south and east. The modern tanks will replenish its much older fleet of Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
Russia has noted that the conflict in Ukraine has increasingly become a conflict with NATO.
Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said on Thursday, “The U.S. and NATO intend to continue making efforts to drag out this military conflict and have become its participants.” He added, “even with the end of the ‘hot phase’ of the conflict in Ukraine, the Anglo-Saxon world will not stop the proxy war against Russia and its allies.”
Berlin has pledged to send German-made Leopard tanks and allowed other European NATO members to send the same. While Ukraine and other Western military experts called it a game-changer, Russian military commentators said that the tanks are a threat but will not do much.
Most of Russian TV also mocked the tanks as “toothless” and “battered.”
War correspondent Semyon Pegov said that while Leopards are well-camouflaged and “not so easy to spot” even from the air or from a long distance, “indestructible tanks do not exist in nature.”
War blogger Yuri Kotenok agreed that while Western tanks may necessitate a change in Russian tactics, they were no “wonder weapon.”
Lawmaker and retired military officer Andrei Gurulev made a similar statement. He said that Western models are “a clear threat” and should not be underestimated since they are equipped to “see beyond the horizon.” But he added that “such a number of tanks is not capable of turning the tide on a large-scale front.”