The head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, could not convince his German counterpart Boris Pistorius that Germany should be the first to supply tanks to Ukraine, Time writes, citing sources in the US Department of Defense.
According to them, Austin and his team laid out the arguments why the German Leopard 2 tanks are better suited for Ukraine. In particular, they consume less fuel than American Abrams, are easier to maintain and are widely available throughout Europe.
Washington was “very optimistic and confident that it will make progress” on the issue of tank deliveries from Germany, sources told CNN. But one of the interlocutors noted that “it would be surprising” if Germany changed its mind and decided to put the tanks first. “[Канцлер ФРГ Олаф] Scholz wants to keep up with the US,” said Rep. Seth Molton, and called for Ukraine to be given some Abrams tanks to push Berlin.
The new German Defense Minister Pistorius, in turn, after a meeting with the head of the Pentagon, did not rule out that the supply of German tanks could be approved soon. “No one excludes that Leopard 2 tanks can be delivered or that consent [на передачу Украине немецких танков] may be given to other European partners,” he said in an interview with ZDF.
According to him, a solution will be found “very soon” and may be announced as early as January 20 at a meeting at the Ramstein base. But Pistorius stressed that Germany should not provide such assistance alone and is waiting for a coordinated position from the NATO countries.
Against this background, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he did not understand the position of the German authorities. “If you have Leopard tanks, give them to us. We do not attack if someone is worried about it. These tanks will not pass through Russian territory. We are on the defensive,” the Ukrainian president said. He hinted that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz “has no political will” and urged him “not to look for excuses.” “We need to say no, and not say that someone is not ready yet,” Zelensky concluded.
Earlier, Scholz put forward a condition for the delivery of Leopard 2 to Ukraine, according to which the United States must also supply Abrams tanks. At the same time, Bloomberg On January 13, it was reported that Germany would allow the transfer of its tanks to Kyiv to other EU countries. In total, there are now about 2,000 tanks of this type in Europe with various modifications.