War in Europe Abrams M1 tanks will arrive sooner than expected in Ukraine but Germany denies Taurus cruise missiles

Ukraine will "very soon" have American M1 Abrams tanks in its counteroffensive in addition to new shipments of weapons and ammunition, but Germany will not provide Kiev with the Taurus cruise missiles that that country so insistently requests

War in Europe Abrams M1 tanks will arrive sooner than expected in Ukraine but Germany denies Taurus cruise missiles

Ukraine will "very soon" have American M1 Abrams tanks in its counteroffensive in addition to new shipments of weapons and ammunition, but Germany will not provide Kiev with the Taurus cruise missiles that that country so insistently requests.

These are, roughly speaking, the results of the meeting held at the US base in Ramstein (Germany) by the fifty countries that form the so-called Contact Group for Ukraine, led by the United States.

The meeting, chaired by Secretary of State Lloyd Austin, served as an introduction to the new Ukrainian Defense Minister, Rustem Umerov. His predecessor, Oleksii Reznikov, resigned this month amid a corruption scandal surrounding the ministry's purchase of military jackets at nearly three times their cost. On Monday, Ukraine announced the dismissal of six deputy defense ministers.

Umerov arrived at his first meeting with the military elite of the countries that support his country with great expectations, although just 24 hours after the meeting, the German Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, announced a new package in an interview with the newspaper Bild. of war material that did not include the Taurus.

"We are supplying additional ammunition: explosive ammunition, mortar ammunition and mine-mine rockets because ammunition is what Ukraine needs most urgently in its defensive fight against the brutal war of aggression," Pistorius declared. In addition, he said, Germany will help with protected vehicles, mine clearance systems and in the face of winter, we will send clothing and electricity and heat generators." In total, he said, the package will be valued at 400 million euros.

Regarding the cruise missiles, Pistorius, who was unable to travel to Ramstein due to a coronavirus infection, declared that the Government has not yet made a decision. "The Government's duty is to weigh very carefully each delivery of weapons. A multitude of political, legal, military and technical aspects must be clarified. It is not easy," he explained.

There are many technical questions, including whether Taurus missiles can be deployed in Ukraine without the support of Bundeswehr soldiers. The one that weighs the most is how to reprogram the system to reduce the range capacity of the Taurus and thus prevent Ukraine from using them to attack Russian targets in Russia. The United States has shown the same concern.

The five-meter-long Taurus KEPD-350 cruise missile is launched from fighter aircraft and can fly more than 500 kilometers with its jet propulsion. It orients itself using terrain data and can fly below enemy radar at high speed and at an altitude of less than 50 meters. Upon impact with the target, an initial charge explodes a breach in the targets wall or ceiling. Next, a 400 kilo metal bar filled with explosives penetrates through this gap and detonates.

The Bundeswehr has a total of 600 Taurus cruise missiles, but only 150 of them are now operational. However, it is assumed that the manufacturer could make the other 450 operational again for export to Ukraine.

Ukraine needs Taurus to "dismantle the extensive rear support system of the Russian occupation forces," says Ukrainian presidential advisor Mychailo Podolyak. Logistical infrastructures, ammunition depots and bases in the territories occupied by Russia are at stake, he says. "However, all this is located at a distance of 100, 200, 300 kilometers from the front line." Only weapon systems like the Taurus could reach such distances.

Ukraine already has cruise missiles. In. May received the British Storm Shadow. France, which has the identical Scalp model in its inventory, did the same in June. The range of this system is around 250 kilometers, which would be less than that of Taurus.

A technical limitation of Taurus capabilities is seen as a possible compromise to overcome reserves against delivery. There are two main options: The weapon system could be reprogrammed so that its range was limited and could only fly 300 kilometers, for example. Another conceivable option would be a territorial restriction preventing its use on Russian territory. In both cases, however, it is questionable whether Ukraine could overturn the restriction itself in case of doubt.

Ukraine's ambassador to Berlin, Oleksii Makeiev, wrote on social media platform ".

What Ukraine can count on is Abrahams tanks. They arrived at the Army Training Area in Bavaria in May, where Ukrainian crews began an accelerated training course shortly after. Ukraine is receiving 31 similar Abrams tanks that were reconditioned in the United States.

Separately, Ukrainian pilots with combat experience began training on American-made F-16s in Denmark in June. Other Ukrainian pilots are expected to arrive at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, in October. Depending on the pilots' English proficiency and experience, training in the United States could be completed by the end of the year, although it will be longer before they fly combat missions, said Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director of the National Guard. United States Air Force.

F-16 training of Ukrainian pilots is one of the key capabilities that several nations, led by Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland, will work on behind closed doors on Tuesday, Austin said.

Partner countries must "keep digging deeper" to arm Ukraine, Austin said in his opening speech to the 15th meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group. "We must continue to push to provide Ukraine with air defense systems and interceptors and right now, in the heat of battle, we must also continue to push for Ukraine to receive the ammunition it needs to continue fighting, including 155mm ammunition," he stressed. he.

"The next few months will be tough," said Siemtje Moeller, parliamentary state secretary at the German Defense Ministry. "It will be cold, it will be muddy and wet."

During Tuesday's sessions, Denmark, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands agreed to increase their aid to Ukraine, starting with 15 T-72EA main battle tanks in the coming months. Air defense systems and ammunition will follow, which will be "delivered quickly," according to the three nations in a joint statement.

Canada's new defense minister, Bill Blair, told reporters Tuesday that discussions are also expected to be held on how to respond to Ukraine's request for ammunition.

"At the moment, most of our conversations with Ukraine are about defensive munitions," which "is an ongoing challenge they face," Blair said. "Allies are striving to find every possible way to support them."