This article was originally published in Spanish by El Heraldo de Mexico.

Last week, Germany and the United States took the decision to authorize the export of Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, thereby changing the profile of Western military assistance.

This is significant since both countries have very restrictive policies for the export of military equipment since they impose on their clients the condition of requiring their authorization to re-export the material. That is, Germany must approve the shipment of Polish or Canadian Leopard tanks to Ukraine, even after they have been sold to these countries. The reasons range from ethical to political, economic, and technological, as they seek to prevent their clients from reselling material, they consider to be a kind of intellectual property to third parties.

Countries that buy weapons from Germany and the US must accept these conditions and do so largely because of the quality of the equipment, the after-sales service, and the reliability of their supply chains. There will be those who have had isolated bad experiences, but the data is clear, the United States is the largest arms exporter in the world, it controls 40 percent of the market, while Germany is in the top 10, controlling 5 percent.

The German authorization came after weeks of deliberation and was tied to the US agreeing to deliver the M1 Abrams. The amounts do not seem significant (Germany will donate 14 and the United States 31) but pledges from many other countries have been added to this authorization, at such a rate that Ukraine expects to receive 321 good quality tanks in the coming months.

The quality of these tanks will give Ukraine a competitive advantage: the Leopard 2 is a 60-tonne beast, considered by many analysts to be the best tank in the world, while the M1 Abrams is so powerful that it uses jet fuel instead of diesel. This qualitative change will take months to take effect as Ukrainian troops must receive adequate training and there is a necessary industrialization process, so Ukraine needs to continue receiving military aid including Soviet or Russian-made equipment.

The head of the US Southern Command, General Laura Richardson, announced during an event hosted by the Atlantic Council last week that the US was encouraging countries in the region to donate or sell their Russian/Soviet-sourced military equipment to help Ukraine.

In Mexico, the Navy, Air Force and National Guard have some 40 Mi-17 helicopters, 30 BTR-60 amphibious armored vehicles, a couple of dozen Ural heavy trucks and Igla anti-aircraft missiles. They were all opportunity purchases between 1994 and 2011: the Berlin wall had just fallen, and ex-Soviet equipment was offered at very low prices in those years. Over the years they have proven their use, but many are out of service, and what is certain is that most of them will have to be decommissioned in a few years, as purchasing spare parts is going to be a nightmare in the international market.

The Mexican armed forces began processes to replace them with Western equipment several years ago, but these projects are frozen under this administration. The Mexican government has a great opportunity—both political and commercial—to get rid of the Russian equipment, offering it at market price, in exchange for credits to continue its modernization processes. In plain terms, transfer this equipment to the US in exchange for credit to buy new equipment. Otherwise, all that equipment will remain in disuse and convert to junk, instead of becoming an asset both for the finances of the people of Mexico, and for the defense of an outraged country.

The Transatlantic Security Initiative, in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, shapes and influences the debate on the greatest security challenges facing the North Atlantic Alliance and its key partners.