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Ending weeks-long drama, the U.S. and Germany last week decided to send their main battle tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine. While Germany will send 14 of its Leopard 2s, considered one of the most advanced MBTs, the U.S. will send 31 M1 Abrams. Earlier, the U.K. had decided to supply 14 of its MBT, the Challenger 2, to Ukraine. Germany had initially resisted calls from Kyiv and its NATO allies to export Leopard 2s to Ukraine, saying such a move would escalate the conflict with Russia. But it also said it would consider sending the tanks if the U.S. decided to provide Abrams to Kyiv. On January 25, both nations announced their decisions. Germany has also shown greenlight to allies to re-export Leopard 2 to Ukraine. NATO members are planning to send two battalions of MBTs —roughly 80 tanks. By Spring, Ukraine will have more than 100 western supplied advanced tanks. Why Leopard 2 is seen critical for Ukraine in the war? And will the arrival of MBTs change the battlefield dynamics? This profile of Leopard 2, “Fire on wheels”, offers some answers.
In recent weeks, Western nations decided to send many more weapons to Ukraine, including armoured vehicles, advanced munitions and tank killers. Their move comes at a time when Russia is making gradual advances in Ukraine’s east and south. In the east, Russia took Soledar earlier this month, and is marching towards Bakhmut, a city in Donestk. And in the south, they have pushed through the frontlines in Zaporizhzhia and have pounded Ukrainian positions in Kherson. Ukraine is also facing corruption scandals and the Army has recently tightened rules against desertion. Ukrainian officials say Moscow is planning a big offensive and they need heavier weapons to counter the enemy. Russia has warned that the supply of weapons to Ukraine would trigger an uncontrolled escalation in the conflict. As the war is entering the second year, escalation is the only path visible. In this explainer, Stanly Johny looks into the next leg of the war.
The Indus Water Treaty
India announced on Friday it wanted to modify the 62-year-old Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan, citing what it called Pakistan’s “intransigence” in resolving disputes over the Kishenganga and Ratle hydropower projects, both in Jammu and Kashmir. India also protested Pakistan’s “unilateral” decision to approach a court of arbitration at The Hague—New Delhi is boycotting the hearing. Sources told The Hindu that Pakistan’s move to push the World Bank for a Court of Arbitration ran counter to the pre-existing channel of dispute resolution through a “neutral expert” appointed by the World Bank. India hasn’t made it public what modifications it wants. In this explainer, Diksha Munjal writes about the treaty, its key provisions and Pakistan’s objections towards the Indian power projects.
Violence in the West Bank
The West Bank, the Palestinian territory under Israel’s illegal occupation, is on the edge once again. On January 26, at least 10 Palestinians, including a 61-year-old woman, were killed in an Israeli raid at the West Bank flashpoint city of Jenin. The next day, a Palestinian gunman killed seven Israelis in a Jewish neighbourhood of the Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Militants in Gaza, the Hamas-controlled tiny strip of land on the Mediterranean coast that has been under Israel’s illegal blockade for years, fired rockets into Israel and the latter carried out retaliatory air strikes. Hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis have been killed in the West Bank since early 2022. The Jenin raid was the deadliest Israeli operation in the West Bank in months and points to the hardline approach of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government towards the Palestinians. In the absence of any peace talks, violence is likely to continue in the occupied territories.
The Top Five
- Abdel Fattah El-Sisi | The General with an iron grip: India’s Republic Day Parade Chief Guest, who came to power in Egypt in 2013 through a coup, is trying to build a careful balance between the West and the East, while keeping the country under his tight control, Suhasini Haidar writes in The Hindu Profiles.
- Contesting the hegemony of the dollar: New supply chains and alternate currency chains are enabling dual/multiple circulation systems, writes Anuradha Chenoy.
- Hindenburg Research | With an eye for fraud: The short seller at the centre of the storm over its report on the Adani Group’s corporate practices is a small firm ‘specialising in forensic financial research’, writes Suresh Seshadri in The Hindu Profiles.
- Why is Japan planning to flush Fukushima wastewater into the ocean?: Japan plans to start flushing 1.2 million tonnes of water from the embattled nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean from this year. Vasudevan Mukunth explains in The Hindu Text and Context.
- India’s timely help ensured Sri Lanka’s economic survival during crisis: Sri Lankan envoy Moragoda tells The Hindu in an interview External Affairs Minister Jaishankar’s visit to Colombo last week has opened a new chapter in India-Sri Lanka ties.