Delivery of tanks to kyiv: Scholz urged to act by his head of diplomacy

Germany finds itself under increased pressure on Monday to deliver its Leopard tanks to Ukraine, which is insistently demanding them, after the head of diplomacy deemed her country ready to do so, despite the reluctance of Chancellor Olaf Scholz to comment on the matter.

Germany is ready to allow Poland to deliver these German-made tanks to kyiv, according to Annalena Baerbock.

“If we were asked the question, we would not oppose,” said Sunday the environmental minister, who governs in coalition with the Social Democrats of Olaf Scholz and the Liberals.

“For the moment, the question has not been asked” by Poland, required to make an official request to Berlin, said the minister, interviewed in Paris on the French channel LCI.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, January 19, 2023 in Berlin (AFP/Archives – Tobias SCHWARZ)

The final decision, however, rests with the Chancellor, who has so far refused to comment on the question of these indirect deliveries, just like on that of directly supplying Leopards from German stocks.

“The decision (…) depends on many factors and is taken at the chancellery,” said German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in an interview with German television ARD, broadcast shortly after the interview. of the head of diplomacy.

Mr. Pistorius, a Social Democrat like Chancellor Scholz, was however not questioned about Mrs. Baerbock’s statements.

– Volunteers –

The German government is under increasing pressure to supply Ukraine with heavy Leopard tanks, which could have a significant impact on the battlefield against Russian troops.

Photo released by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kouleba (g), January 10, 2023 in Kharkiv (AFP/Archives - STR)
Photo released by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kouleba (g), January 10, 2023 in Kharkiv (AFP/Archives – STR)

“I understood how important these tanks are, we are fully aware of that,” added Baerbock, who had recently visited Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine.

Poland and Finland have offered to deliver Leopards that they own, but they need official approval from Berlin for re-export.

Again questioned on the deliveries of Leopard tanks Sunday in Paris, during a press conference alongside Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz was evasive, repeating the need to act in consultation with the allies of Ukraine on arms delivery issues.

The fear of a military escalation with Moscow and Berlin’s reluctance to assume leadership in the Western camp lead, according to analysts, Germany to hesitate on sending these weapons requested by kyiv.

It is not the first time that the Green ministers of the government, in particular Ms Baerbock, have taken a more proactive line than the Chancellor on the subject of military support for Ukraine.

The Leopard 2A4 (AFP - Guillermo RIVAS PACHECO)
The Leopard 2A4 (AFP – Guillermo RIVAS PACHECO)

Several environmentalist figures have insisted in recent weeks that Olaf Scholz approve of tank deliveries to kyiv.

At a meeting on Friday at the US Ramstein base in Germany, Ukraine’s western allies pushed back on any decision on the matter, angering kyiv, which criticized their “indecision”.

– Failure –

Among the Liberals, another partner of the German coalition, the teeth are also gnashing. It would have been “at least fair to give the partners the go-ahead” for deliveries of Leopards from their stockpiles, liberal Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann lamented of Ramstein’s talks.

(lr) German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, US General Mark Milley and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listen to a video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the opening of a meeting of Ukraine supporters , on January 20, 2023 in Ramstein, Germany (AFP - ANDRE PAIN)
(lr) German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, US General Mark Milley and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listen to a video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the opening of a meeting of Ukraine supporters , on January 20, 2023 in Ramstein, Germany (AFP – ANDRE PAIN)

“History is watching us and Germany has unfortunately just failed,” said the chairman of the Bundestag’s defense committee.

And in the opposition, the conservatives regret the procrastination of the chancellor. According to the deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Johann Wadephul (CDU), “German industry can almost immediately deliver almost 200 Leopard 1 type tanks”.

Many European armies have Leopard tanks, a considerable advantage because it could facilitate access to ammunition and spare parts and simplify maintenance, which is demanding for this type of equipment.

On Sunday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki again stepped up to the plate, calling Berlin’s refusal to supply heavy Leopard tanks to kyiv ‘unacceptable’ when the Russians are on the offensive. , especially in eastern Ukraine.

The foreign ministers of the three Baltic countries on Saturday called on Germany to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine “immediately” to help it stop Russian aggression.

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