TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu hopes that the confirmation by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak regarding the supply of tanks to Ukraine will be a trailblazing step setting an example for other countries.
"It was preceded by decisions by the United States and Germany to start sending the Bradley and Marder infantry fighting vehicles. So far, Soviet-era tanks have been sent by Poland, Slovenia, North Macedonia and the Czech Republic from their reserves, a total of some 300 units, according to public sources," Reinsalu wrote on social media.
"As we discussed with the foreign affairs minister of Ukraine on Wednesday, Western tanks are particularly needed in Ukraine due to there being a limited amount of ammunition for Soviet-era tanks," the foreign minister said. "The situation is similar to that last spring when the issue was about sending Western artillery. Despite political hesitation by some states, this decision was made in a critical situation because otherwise, Russia would have achieved a great advantage due to Ukraine having a shortage of Soviet caliber artillery ammunition."
"Poland also announced it readiness last week to send its Leopard tanks. This requires the consent of Germany as the manufacturing state, however," Reinsalu said. "Estonia calls on Germany to grant its consent without delay in the submission of an official application because that, in turn, would set a precedent -- there are around 200 Leopard tanks in Europe and it is clear that in order to ensure a change in hostilities upon sending the tanks, a sufficient number thereof needs to be guaranteed. To this end, the first steps needs to be taken in the form of political decisions, and subsequently all other allies need to be prepared to contribute."
The United States has the biggest tank capability in the West, according to Reinsalu, which is why it is crucial that the United States in particular should provide Ukraine with tanks.
"Sending tanks and ammunition in large volumes and ensuring a logistics base for them is crucial for Ukraine to be able to resist a possible major attack by Russia and for Ukraine developing its offensive operations," Reinsalu said.
"The lesson from this war for the West is that providing aid step by step has not paid off as a strategy. In the end, the level of aid must still be increased. I have been saying since the international consultations last fall that the paradigm of military aid needs to change -- all possible conventional weapons aid requested by Ukraine must be provided immediately without restrictions in order for the war to end sooner with Ukraine's victory," he added.