Last week’s decision not to commit western tanks against Russia will be seen in Moscow as proof of European weakness
As Sherlock Holmes once pointed out, something that does not happen can be as significant as something that does. Friday’s meeting of defence ministers at Ramstein in Germany had been billed as the moment when the western allies, Germany above all, would finally commit the battle tanks that Ukraine has been demanding. It didn’t happen. As our own weekend report delicately expressed it, Germany declined to take a decision.
Although tanks dominated the headlines, a lot of military commitments came out of Ramstein. A US package, worth $2.5bn, includes fighting vehicles, air defence and rockets. Nine other allies gave more support, too, including tanks from the UK. These are the latest steps in the gradual extension of western military support and hardening of attitudes. They are a recognition that the spring will be decisive and that Ramstein will shape the military outcome.