Germany and the West are giving Ukraine what it needs to defend itself. But it’s not just Olaf Scholz who’s reluctant to help Ukraine retake occupied land.
Bärbel Bas is number two in the German state, and she has just promised Ukraine what Gerhard Schröder, as Germany’s Chancellor, once promised the USA after 9/11, namely: “Unrestricted solidarity.”
It is by no means the case that the Social Democrats find everything that Schröder did as their foreman bad. They are still proud of his no to the Iraq war in the SPD.
20 years ago, Schröder found this formula for taking part in the Afghan war but not in the Iraq war: “Unrestricted solidarity, but no adventures.”
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At that time the “adventure” from the perspective of the SPD was the Iraq war, today this adventure consists of those tanks that Schröder’s successor Olaf Scholz absolutely does not want to deliver to the Ukraine: Leopards and martens, battle tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Even today in the Bundeswehr, he invoked the “pride” of Germany’s contribution to Ukraine’s fight against Russia, but stuck to the formula: “Very decisive, but also always concerned.”
As I said: no “adventures”. At the Bundeswehr conference at which Scholz spoke this morning, the army leadership spared him the tank debate, which makes life difficult for Scholz in his coalition because two of his partners want to deliver them to Ukraine. Greens and FDP, but one definitely not – his own party.
What sometimes falls short in the debate: the Bundeswehr is not driven by “military chic” either, the desire for saber-rattling military activities, on the contrary. The Bundeswehr leadership is happy about the government’s “turning point billions”, but in principle it is enough to concentrate on national and alliance defense.
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Germany’s army has absolutely no desire to take part in the Ukraine war. 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the normality of building bridges and drilling wells, which was only interrupted by foreign missions that were not allowed to be called “war” for a long time, has been established.
Now the Federal Chancellor is turning back the international role of the Bundeswehr and is talking about “core tasks”, i.e. national and alliance defense “first”. Which fits in avoiding everything to become a “belligerent” in Ukraine.
So no more martens and leos for Ukraine. Some now expected the intrepid Nancy Pelosi to put pressure on Scholz. Well – she let it be. At noon today in Berlin, she was expressly fussing about the question of tank and other “severe” deliveries. However, she swears by the leadership role of the USA and her party friend:
“President Biden knows what is necessary.” And also what is not. The Americans do not supply Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine. They don’t supply guns that can shoot further than 50 to 80 kilometers, they don’t supply fighter planes. So where is the “red line” that the Americans don’t want to cross, just like Olaf Scholz?
What the Americans – and the Germans – are delivering are: deadly weapons that are among the most dangerous in the world, but: no offensive weapons. The Gepard tank that the Germans are sending to Ukraine is an anti-aircraft “ABWEHR” gun tank.
German and American rocket launchers – the Americans are currently delivering new ones of the “Himars” type – can stop the Russian arms supply. They are only of limited use for a Ukrainian attack. Most importantly, the West is not providing anything that Ukraine could use to attack the Russians in Russia.
To put it bluntly, nobody in the West wants Ukrainians to think of confusing Crimea with the Kremlin. What nobody says out loud: It doesn’t look like “unrestricted solidarity”, nor does it look like 100 percent trust.
Even at first glance, however, the West is steering itself into a dilemma: Whoever wants a “victory” for Ukraine, which the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi also invoked today, or the “territorial” unity of Ukraine that Olaf Scholz is talking about, first has to explain why he is not helping Ukraine to regain its territory.
The – unspoken – explanation: reconquest is no longer defensive, but it means: offensive. And reconquest can hardly be accomplished without western tanks, Germany’s ex-four-star general Egon Ramms explained it on the radio today. Which does ______________ mean:
The West has chosen to provide Ukraine with almost all the weapons it needs to defend itself against invading Russians. But he is reluctant to provide Ukraine with what it needs to take back occupied territory.
Remember how, shortly after the war began, in March, the Americans stopped the Poles. The government in Warsaw wanted to supply the Ukrainians with fighter jets, Mig-29s from old stock. The Americans said no.
On the other hand, Washington has also made it crystal clear that it would not ban Germany from sending German leopards and martens to Ukraine.
Each state decides that sovereign. So the Americans do not believe that German tanks make “the” difference, especially since the Russians immediately comment on almost every further delivery of weapons: The West has now finally crossed a “red line”.
The Ukrainian parliament speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk was just asked in Berlin how he thinks the Americans and Germans are still not delivering what Ukraine is asking for. One will, said the Ukrainian, simply have to talk to each other again.
Tank bingo continues.
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