Other allies – including from Scandinavia – would also like to deliver Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. Berlin also wants to grant approval for the export of these tanks that are owned by other countries, SPIEGEL reported. A government spokesman declined to comment.
A little later, the dpa also reported on the government’s decision, citing “coalition circles”. Even though the decision is not yet official, it was immediately welcomed by the FDP and Greens coalition partners, as well as opposition leader and CDU leader Friedrich Merz. Bundestag Green Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt even tweeted: “The leopard is free!”
The #LeopardIt is released!
I hope that now he can quickly help Ukraine in its struggle against the Russian attack and for the freedom of Ukraine and Europe. https://t.co/uPJnCvUld0
— Katrin Goering-Eckardt (@GoeringEckardt) January 24, 2023
The right-wing populist AfD criticized the decision that Scholz was due to make official on Wednesday. Andryy Yermak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wrote in Telegram that the “hundreds of tanks” would be “a heavy blow to democracy and against Russian autocracy”.
Earlier, the German government had announced that it wanted to take a quick decision on Poland’s request to supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks. Like other countries, Poland has older Leopard 2A4s. As the Leopard is German-made, approval from Berlin is required before Poland can deliver its tanks to Ukraine.
Ukraine: what is needed for peace?
Possible delivery of US tanks crucial?
For days now, allies and Ukraine have been asking Berlin to deliver these tanks, considered crucial for Ukraine, by spring to Kyiv at the latest. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far hesitated. Scholz always insisted that the United States also deliver tanks to Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal had previously reported that the US government was considering supplying its own Abrams main battle tanks. An announcement of the promise of “a greater number” of American M1 Abrams to avoid Russia’s war of aggression could come later this week, the paper said. Accordingly, US President Joe Biden Scholz reportedly promised in a phone call last week that such a delivery would be verified. Officially, however, neither the Pentagon nor the White House declined to comment on the report on Tuesday.
The US had previously emphasized that it did not consider supplying the Abrams tank sensible for practical reasons. According to the Pentagon, American tanks would have to be transported across the Atlantic, maintenance would be more complex and they would consume a lot of fuel.
Several reasons for Scholz’s hesitation
In addition to the historically justified hesitation and rejection of Germany acting alone, Scholz always justified himself by saying that he did not want to help the war turn into a conflict between Russia and NATO. In the German “traffic light coalition” with the Greens and the FDP, however, he was alone in the field, and the result was a tangible coalition dispute in Berlin. Because the Greens and the FDP were vehemently demanding the delivery of the tanks.
Graphics: APA/ORF.at; Source: dpa
Stoltenberg also demanded delivery
During a visit to Berlin on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also called for the delivery of new weapons. “At this crucial moment in the war, we need to provide Ukraine with heavier and more advanced systems, and we need to do it faster,” Stoltenberg said after talks with new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) in Berlin.
Ukrainian forces must be able to repel the Russians. “Not just to survive, but to win, reclaim territory and exist as a sovereign and independent state in Europe.”
Poland wants to deliver tanks to Ukraine
Germany was under pressure to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. Now Poland wants to ship these German-made tanks to Ukraine immediately and has officially requested export.
Pistorius had also promised that Germany would make a quick decision on the delivery of the Leopard main battle tanks. He had “expressly encouraged” other partner countries that already had main battle tanks of this model to start training Ukrainian soldiers, Pistorius said after the conversation with Stoltenberg. Meanwhile, the Kremlin had warned of a further deterioration in German-Russian relations if the German government delivered Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine.
Hallelujah! Jesus Christ! And now, dear allies, let us establish a mighty
with F-16 and F-35 jets, Eurofighter and Tornado, Rafale and Gripen and everything you can offer to save Ukraine💪 pic.twitter.com/QqJRivDvmi
— Andriy Melnyk (@MelnykAndriy) January 24, 2023
Melnyk: “Now, please, F-16 and Eurofighter”
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister and former ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, welcomed the delivery of the tanks – and immediately made new demands for modern fighters. He tweeted: “And now, dear allies, let’s build a strong fighter coalition for Ukraine, with F-16s and F-35s, Eurofighters and Tornadoes, Rafale and Gripen – and whatever you can think of.”