Zelenskyy in the ARD interview: "If you can give ‘Leopard’ shells, then give them"

Zelenskyy in the ARD interview: "If you can give ‘Leopard’ shells, then give them"

Status: 01/19/2023 10:17 pm

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has the federal government in ARD-Interview heavily criticized for his hesitant attitude on the battle tank issue. “People die here – every day,” he said. Your country just wants to defend itself.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy looks at the hesitant German attitude towards the delivery of tanks with incomprehension: “You are adults. You can talk like that for six months, but people die here – every day,” Zelenskyy said in a interview with the ARD.

“If you have ‘Leopard’ tanks, give it to us. It’s not like we’re attacking, if anyone is worried. These ‘Leopards’ aren’t passing through Russia. We’re defending ourselves.”

The decision for or against the delivery of “Leopard” tanks is political: “And if there is no political will on an issue, you don’t need to look for excuses. Then you say: No! You don’t have to say that something or someone still not ready,” Zelenskyy said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy in conversation with ARD correspondent Vassili Golod. Image: WDR

Scholz is under pressure – and likely to set conditions

In recent weeks, international pressure has steadily increased, especially on Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The federal government should at least approve deliveries of “Leopard” tanks from other countries to Ukraine, but even better, it should also deliver its own “Leopards”, according to Eastern European countries, for example. Due to German regulations, the federal government must approve the delivery of German weapon systems, regardless of which country wants to export them.

Scholz repeatedly emphasized that he did not want to go it alone – even after Britain announced the delivery of its own “Challenger” main battle tanks.

More recently, various media reported that Scholz had formulated conditions for the United States: Germany would only release the “Leopards” if the United States delivered its own “Abrams”-type main battle tanks in return. However, US government representatives have made it clear to various media outlets that Washington is not currently planning this. The company’s own tanks are very maintenance-intensive and very complicated.

Pistorius: He wasn’t aware of the condition

New Defense Minister Boris Pistorius explained at the ARD focal point that he was unaware of such a condition. When asked whether Germany would also deliver main battle tanks without the US, he said: “I’m sure we’ll make a decision on that in the coming days. But I can’t say today how that will go.”

On Friday, representatives of countries that support Ukraine will meet at the US base in Ramstein, in Rhineland-Palatinate. It will be about more military aid and also about the issue of tanks.

Pistorius said the United States was the biggest and most important ally within NATO and that it was therefore important that Germany, as Europe’s biggest ally, act “in solidarity with the Americans”. He dismissed criticism of Germany: Along with Britain, Germany is Ukraine’s biggest supporter after the US. “So the charge that we’re not doing anything or that we’re making the wrong decisions simply cannot be accepted,” Pistorius said.

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However, thanks to Germany – and the US

In the ARD interview, Zelenskyy would also like more support for Ukrainian airspace: “It’s about defending the sky. We would love to open a new page in this war, in this defence.” Ukraine wants “the Russians not to have control over our airspace,” Zelenskyy said.

At the same time, he thanked the federal government for the help and the military packages that have been delivered so far: “We are grateful. I want everyone to hear: we are grateful to Germany.”

With input from Rebecca Barth and Olaf Bock, WDR

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