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“We need Western tanks,” Ukrainian tankers say

A Ukrainian soldier holds a box of cat food that has been turned into a paraffin candle as he sits in front of an antique Soviet-made tank near the front line in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region. The soldiers of Commander Maksim’s brigade rely on such innovative – albeit dangerous – DIY to stay warm in the bowels of their tanks, such as this T-64, one of the older tank models that make up the Ukrainian arsenal. If Kiev’s lobbying for newer and more modern tanks is successful with its Western allies, however, Commander Maxim admits: “The cold is our last concern.” “The situation is very difficult, equipment is breaking down” and ammunition is missing, he lists. AFP under the snow. Beside him, a young mechanic works under an armored vehicle in deep dug-in icy mud. Cracks left by the tracks of vehicles going to the front: “We don’t have spare parts to store the tanks and the rails break, so if our maintenance crew sees hit tanks, they take what they need ” he explains. commander. – “Sitting on ammunition” – Thus, the brigade showed AFP a number of tanks near the town of Lyman, which was devastated by the war and was recaptured from Russian troops in October, but is always close to the front. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitri Kuleba this week again offered military aid to the country, pressure on the West, including ammunition, artillery, anti-aircraft systems and armored vehicles. Infantry. Interest is especially focused on the German Leopard 2 battle tank. With the green light from Berlin, it is ready to supply Kiev. These more modern tanks are superior to their Soviet counterparts. Captain Volodymyr Tchaikovsky, 54, says there are many factors, but the most important is where the ammunition is stored: “In a Soviet tank, the crew sits on ammunition, so if the tank is hit, it means almost 100%. While the shells on the Leopard are stored behind an armored panel instead of the crew compartment, the captain says: “For us, the safety of our crews and their lives is our priority above all else. Equipment can be changed, but personnel cannot”, according to Tchaikovsky, “this is the main reason why we need Western tanks. Everything else – GPS, night vision, thermal vision… – comes later”. – Not a “miracle cure” – American CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) analyst Mark Cansian also emphasizes the importance of this point. Even for some, Leopard even if there is a “design flaw” – storing the ammunition in the back makes the tank bigger and makes it a bigger target – the expert talks more about the “compromise” of the Ukrainians and Ukraine. It can be installed on the Soviet-designed T-72, which makes up the bulk of its fleet of about 700 tanks, Mr. Cancian assures. rather than hoping, given the numbers announced, “there won’t be a miracle cure.” Because even if dozens of vehicles are sent to Ukraine, for Mr. Kansian, “we are more of a symbol than a real military potential.” But his 25-year-old son, a lieutenant in his battalion for Captain Tchaikovsky, who is nant. The help of the West is important: “If we don’t have support from abroad, the conflict will be prolonged and there will be more casualties”.sw/bur/mba/lpt

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