Throughout the war, the West has been exceeding its self-imposed thresholds and limitations in providing aid to Ukraine, said Tony Lawrence, research fellow at Tallinn-based think tank International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS).
The U.K.'s recent announcement that it would be providing Ukraine with Challenger 2 tanks failed to encourage defense ministers that convened in Germany Friday to provide Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks as well. Whether the doors of allies' tank hangars will remain locked is currently impossible to say.
Lawrence, who is also head of the ICDS' Defense Policy and Strategy Program, said that the West has continued to exceed the thresholds it has set itself regarding aid to Ukraine, but noted that this has taken time.
"Throughout the war, we've set various thresholds or limitations on what we were ready to provide," he told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Friday. "And as the war's progressed, we've stepped over those thresholds one by one. And at each step, Ukraine has proved itself able to use these weapons — and the responsibilities of these weapons. So I think this is another part of the same process."
To date, Ukraine has received high-tech weapons systems from the West primarily for longer-range fire, including missile systems and anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. Tanks, however, would face the enemy directly on the battlefield in Ukraine. Western tanks have not seen large-scale tank battle since World War II, and thus providing them might have politicians and manufacturers alike trembling.
"Nothing on the ground matches tanks with the firepower that they can produce and the capabilities that they can have," Lawrence explained. "And this is why supporting states have so far been cautious in supplying tanks. So yes, potentially there will be an agreement today to do so, and that will be another self-imposed line stepped over."
"If the West provides the equipment, it will be taking on responsibility for its maintenance and logistics along with it," explained Col. Eero Rebo, chief of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defense League. "Of course countries and especially companies are interested in their machine working and achieving good resutls in Ukraine."
Editor: Aili Vahtla