As Fyodor Lukyanov, the research director of the Valdai International Discussion Club, remarked, NATO is now entering the most critical phase regarding the possibility of supplying Leopards to Ukraine. "Most likely, they will 'push through' the decision to provide the tanks, but then the alliance will have to walk a tightrope," he believes. In this case, Russia will not only threaten to retaliate, but actually do so, he forecasts. "Strikes on supply routes and warehouses will follow. If we continue to condone such supplies, then the last fears in the West will disappear: what's the point of being cautious, if Russia does not retaliate?"
In a number of countries, like Poland, the Baltic states, Britain and the US, Lukyanov sees a clear trend towards escalation. At the same time, Washington, he says, "is happy to delegate the right to participate in the escalation to its European allies, in particular Germany."
Germany, in turn, has been trying to maneuver with regard to the supply of tanks to Ukraine and, for a number of reasons, it is afraid of sending heavy offensive weapons to Kiev directly, Lukyanov noted. "But I think it's a matter of time," he continued. "Today it's hard to imagine that Germany will be adamant and refuse to do it, although for now it is trying to maneuver." The expert also drew attention to reports that Germany could supply Leopards to Ukraine only if the United States sent its Abrams tanks. In this way, Berlin tries to "share responsibility" with the US.