One might wonder about the battlefield changes of the Ukraine war brought on by President Biden’s continuing willingness to send weapons and cash to Ukraine. Sending tanks, HIMARS and Patriot Missiles to influence the course of the war is a fairly aggressive posture. Ukraine has already used HIMARS to attack inside Russia. Tanks are a traditional tool for ground invasions, yet thirty won’t be enough to make an attack inside Russia. So why send them?
Russia may still have as many as 10,000 tanks in reserve although some may be rusted out. It has 200 of its T-90s in Ukraine and has lost 27. I believe the U.S has 600 M1A2 tanks in Europe; quite a build up since it had zero in 2018. Transferring some of those should be simple enough.
Russian leadership hasn’t figured out how to use tanks well in an era with drones for attack and surveillance. The U.S. gave Ukraine more than 17,000 anti-tanks weapons and Ukrainians used them well. Russia has Kornet anti-tank weapons and the practical RPG-29 and 30 that are able to take penetrate the reactive armor of M1s. Israel recently made a defense tool against anti-missile systems and it isn’t known if they will sell those to the U.S. or provide them to Ukraine. Perhaps the U.S. will encounter a significant loss of the tanks it gives to Ukraine when they are deployed in the field.
The slow build up of the Ukraine war into a fully western supported total war against the Russian front concentrated in a particular area does seem a bit dangerous inasmuch as it could make a hard choice ahead when the U.S. expect Russia to run out of ammunition in early 2023. Would Russia use battlefield tactical nukes to supplant its ebbing conventional ammunition?
I suppose N.A.T.O. and Russia consider the Ukraine was as the first round of a general western war against Russia that is presently limited to Ukraine. In that case the continuing U.S. build up of weapons in N.A.T.O. countries is designed to serve for that war should it occur. The more weapons Russia uses in the battle for East Ukraine the less it would have for the north and south fronts of round two of the war in its expanded form. The U.S. may have 600 tanks in Europe to deploying tanks to the Ukraine front even operated by Ukrainian soldiers for the time being is a reasonable way to prepare for round two’s advance into Russia and onward to Moscow should round two happen and nukes not.
The U.S. Marines are getting rid of their M1 tanks, or already did, as they seem a bit obsolete on a modern battlefield. Their best use may be to act as mobile artillery for a ground invasion and as dug on, concealed and mobile field pieces in a static war like Ukraine. Probable self-driving platforms to move howitzers around, or rockets to locations quickly would be a faster and cheaper way to get artillery and rockets to the right places quickly. The Ukraine war is an expensive distraction and should be and could have been settled peacefully with just some concessions from the U.S. toward Russia’s claims of a right of recovery of land rightly owned by Russia.