THE last time Berlin was thinking of sending main battle tanks towards Ukraine 82 years ago, it did not work out that well.

Operation Barbarossa was the ultimate disaster for Adolf Hitler and the beginning of the end of his tyrannical dictatorship.

AP

Germany must do the right thing and send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine[/caption]

EPA

Ukrainians rally to support the deployment of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, outside the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium[/caption]

But today, once again, Berlin is in a muddle and is failing to apply the lessons of history.

This time Berlin could do something positive for European history, for a change.

It can help restore the rule of law and democracy in Europe, save the brave Ukrainian people and very likely rid Russia and the world of another callous dictator.

Put simply, Berlin must agree to send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine — and do it soon.

Moreover, if Berlin cannot find the moral courage to do the right thing herself, she must not stop other countries sending some of their German-made Leopard 2 tanks.

Poland is positively champing at the bit to do the right thing, as are other European countries too.

Why is this all so important?

So far, the Ukrainians supported by Nato and the West have prevented their country from losing this war, but is that enough?

Some would argue that the whole sad business should now be concluded by negotiations.

However, that will not work.

The issue must be settled on the battlefield.

The potential negotiating positions of Russia and Ukraine are irreconcilable.

President Zelensky has vowed to return all Ukrainian territory to Ukraine including Crimea.

To settle for anything less than this would be failure and he could no longer look the Ukrainian people in the eye, as he does so positively every evening in his television addresses.

President Putin, on the other hand, must come out of this conflict with at least the four eastern regions that he has declared to be “forever Russia”.

Similarly, he cannot give up Crimea. If he comes away empty-handed, he is finished.

There is absolutely no basis for a negotiated settlement.

So, if negotiations are a dead duck, then the decision must come on the battlefield.

Some worry that providing Ukraine with offensive capabilities risks major escalation of the war.

But the war is already a barbaric and gloves-off contest.

Russia certainly didn’t think twice when it launched its major offensive on Kyiv on February 24 last year and butchered innocent people in Bucha.

Now it thinks nothing of its latest offensive campaign to cripple Ukraine’s infrastructure and destroy its electricity grid in the middle of a freezing winter.

Where is the moral sense in helping Ukraine not to lose this war but to tie one arm behind its back and prevent her winning?

Ukraine must win this war for the sake of her own people, their sovereignty, their livelihood and their chosen way of life.

Ukraine must win this war to protect the security of Europe from another malicious dictator and uphold the international order that has been put together so painstakingly since the Second World War.

And to win, Ukraine needs modern main battle tanks — dozens of them, probably hundreds of them.

The United Kingdom has led the way by pledging Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

Others must now follow, and all eyes are on Berlin. Germany has prided itself with its roaring economy in recent decades.

Germany aspires to be a leader for good in Europe.

Now is the time to step up to the plate, be bold and authorise Leopard 2 tanks to go to Ukraine.

But let us be quite clear.

It is not just tanks that will win this war.

It is the solidarity of the West to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine that continues to be vital.

That solidarity must run beyond main battle tanks and include armoured infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery and enormous supplies of ammunition.

Furthermore, the Ukrainians need training and a sound operational concept to bring about victory.

Under huge pressure, they are learning and adapting fast. An army at war always does this.

To win, the timing of a new offensive must be right.

It is very likely that Putin will throw his large conscript army into a new offensive of his own.

On all the evidence presented thus far in this war, this new Russian offensive will be a bloody disaster.

A tragedy for so many Russian families.

That will then be the moment for the Ukrainians to launch their counter offensive.

A massive hammer blow led by modern Western tanks will shatter the morale of the Russian soldier and break the back of the Russian army.

When an army thinks it has lost, it has indeed lost.

Berlin is holding the ace of spades — now is the time to play that card.

  • General The Lord Dannatt is a former Chief of the General Staff.
EPA

President Zelensky has vowed to return all Ukrainian territory to Ukraine including Crimea[/caption]

Getty

General The Lord Richard Dannatt is a former Chief of the General Staff[/caption]

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