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Military Committee Meeting and NATO’s View on Tank Aid to Ukraine

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The NATO Military Committee Meeting in January 2023  was an appropriate platform  to learn the view of senior military officials in NATO on the tank support [1] that many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states will provide or pledge to Ukraine individually.

The Military Committee Meeting, NATO’s highest military body, took place in Brussels on 18-19 January 2023 with the participation of the Defence Ministers of the member countries, their Finnish and Swedish counterparts, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (CMC), Admiral Rob Bauer, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Christopher Cavoli and the NATO Allied Commander Transformation Philippe Lavigne (SACT).

The meeting sessions included discussions on the political objectives of the alliance and the security challenges it faces, observations on the ongoing war in Ukraine, the “Basic Concept of Communications (NWCC)”[2] a vision of how NATO should develop its military capabilities to its advantage over the next 20 years, as well as a session on NATO’s continued support to Ukraine.[3] In the question-and-answer section of the press conference dedicated to the sessions and held with the participation of CMC, SACEUR and SACT, the questions and answers posed by the representatives of different press organs and the comments on the subject are presented below.[4]

In response to a question asked by the representative of Deutsche Welle (DW) on how militarily it is necessary to provide tanks to Ukraine, the CMC replied that all kinds of military equipment are necessary in a war, that Russia’s fight with tanks means that Ukraine also needs tanks, and that tanks are an important weapon system for the recapture of Ukraine’s territory occupied by Russia.

In response to a question by a representative of the Frankfurter Allgemeine on whether there is a military necessity for the delivery of Western-produced tanks to Ukraine, as well as how to manage this if there is a risk in the SACEUR area of responsibility, SACEUR said;  It was answered by stating that there are many tools to escalate the crisis, that there are fruitful political discussions that can overcome it, that there is no weapon system with magic wand in wars, and that the balanced use of all weapons is essential.

In addition, SACEUR stated that tanks are an element that provides balance in the fields of firepower, mobility, and protection as a concept and that there are different ways/methods that the ground forces have been looking for years to achieve this, and that the issue is not only a matter of tanks versus tanks. Also, it was emphasized that the sum of  subsystems such as  procurement, logistics, maintenance, and target finding capability is more important than the parts of a whole and that the ability to manage risks is expressed.

In the context of Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) representative’s statement that Russia is preparing for a new attack, the question about the timing and impact of the attack was answered by the CMC by stating that there was no change in Russia’s strategic objectives in general and that Ukraine should be prepared for the attacks to be made and that the members of the alliance would decide accordingly on the aid to be made.

NATO officials’ statements indicate that tank aid to Ukraine by alliance member states is considered necessary; however, it is understood that it is not considered a “game changer” element.

Considering the number of countries that will provide tank aid and the number of tanks to be sent, it  is obvious that the current development will be positive for Ukraine in the course of the war. However, the need for training on the use, maintenance, and logistical issues of the tanks in question, the necessity of supplying the ammunition and spare parts to be used in the tanks and the need for competent manpower and maintenance personnel as well as the number of tanks to be sent are also considered as issues to be taken into consideration.

Considering the time that will pass until the tanks are delivered to the region, the training of the relevant personnel, their use at the front, and the acquisition of a reputation for maintenance and logistics, it is likely that the tanks will be used for counter-attacks after the clashes foreseen for the spring months.

As a result, the 300 tanks of different types,[5] which are expected to arrive in the future with the help of Ukraine and which are considered to be sufficient to equip 10 mechanized or 3 tank brigades, are insufficient compared to the number of tanks of Russia when numerically compared[6] and therefore are likely to have limited impact. Hence, the aid to be rendered will not be sufficient to “break the will and determination of the adversary to fight”; but it will obviously serve to prolong the war and strengthen the perception that the West is behind Ukraine and that aid can be provided in other areas.


[1] Which countries are sending tanks to Ukraine and what comes next?, ITVNews, https://www.itv.com/news/2023-01-25/which-countries-are-sending-tanks-to-ukraine-and-what-comes-next, (Date of Accession: 04.02.2023).

[2] NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept, NATO, https://www.act.nato.int/nwcc, (Date of Accession: 04.02.2023).

[3] NATO Military Chiefs of Defence Meeting-18-19 January 2023, NATO, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_210397.htm,  (Date of Accession: 04.02.2023).

[4] Press conference by the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (Q&A’s), https://www.natomultimedia.tv/app/asset/686571, NATO, ( Date of Accession: 04.02.2023).

[5] [Explore time]US and European military aid 300 tanks to help Ukraine fight against Russia | Ukraine War | Ukraine Tanks | Russia-Ukraine War, Breaking Latest News, https://www.breakinglatest.news/world/explore-timeus-and-european-military-aid-300-tanks-to-help-ukraine-fight-against-russia-ukraine-war-ukraine-tanks-russia-ukraine-war/, (Date of Accession: 05.02.2023).

[6] Comparison of the military capabilities of Russia and Ukraine as of 2022, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1296573/russia-ukraine-military-comparison/, (Date of Accession: 05.02.2023).

Emekli Deniz Albay Dr. Ferhan ORAL
Emekli Deniz Albay Dr. Ferhan ORAL
He was born in 1972 in Denizli. He graduated from the Naval War College in 1994. During his 24-year career, he served in various submarines and headquarters. Among his headquarters assignments, he served as the Directorate of Civil-Military Cooperation of the EU Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Directorate of Plans and Policy of the Turkish General Staff, the Operations-Intelligence Directorate of the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE), and the Multinational Maritime Security Center of Excellence. He holds a master's degree in Sociology and a PhD in Maritime Safety, Security, and Environmental Management. He has articles published in national peer-reviewed journals. His research and study areas include maritime security, NATO, and EU Defence Policy issues. He speaks English and basic French.