Significant because, without fuel, a tank is just a cannon with aspirations. And even with fuel, they’re often merely big rolling funeral pyres.
War offers a chaos of detail. As we sit and watch, we choose which story lines to absorb, which to ignore. Focusing on what feels good: the heroism of the Ukrainian resistance, the courage of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the unexpected severity of sanctions imposed by governments and businesses. When McDonald’s steps into the fray, you know something unusual is happening.
Or, we focus on what we feel obligated, as human beings, to consider: the suffering of the Ukrainian people. The hardships facing millions of refugees. The risk to ourselves in this delicate geopolitical moment, with Russia begging China for arms, and European leaders traveling to embattled Kyiv.
Rather than symbols of strength, all those tanks are an argument for how weak and disorganized the Russians have been. They can barely invade Ukraine, never mind face NATO and the United States. Russia went into this folly without a plan and, apparently, without adequate supplies, not only of fuel, but food, water and ammunition. Some tanks didn’t have to be destroyed; they were merely abandoned.
When the first images of burning Russian tanks started flitting around Twitter, as well as Ukrainian farmers towing tanks with their tractors, I wondered how the supporting infantry accompanying the tanks let the Ukrainians get close enough to destroy them.
Now it turns out that the tanks often had no supportive infantry. Nor can they operate off-road because of the season Russian chose for the invasion: too much mud.
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