“Germany is not a party to the war,” says Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. Will that change if Germany supplies Ukraine with Leopard tanks? International law is clear. But does that count?

In his very first statement as Federal Minister of Defense, Boris Pistorius stated unequivocally immediately after being sworn in: “Germany is not a party to the war.” Question: Would that change if Germany now also supplied battle tanks to Ukraine in its defensive war against Russia?

Moscow has long maintained that the West, led by the Americans, is a belligerent over the extensive military aid to Ukraine. A claim that is part of Russian psychological warfare. Fear of being dragged into a war with Russia is widespread in the West, and Russia uses it as a policy to divide the Allies.

The Russians should have known better by now – because of their own history. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, the Americans supplied the Soviets with weapons under their Lend Lease Act – 7,000 tanks, 15,000 planes. The decisive factor here for this consideration is not that the capitalist world power supplied the communist world power with an enormous amount of weapons, but that the United States was still neutral at the time and did not become a party to the war even as a result of the gigantic arms deliveries.

And even if the Russians today want to redefine the West as a war party: international law says otherwise – and there are no two opinions on it. As the Bonn international law expert Stefan Talmon argues: “There may be political reasons for denying Ukraine the necessary military support from Germany in its most difficult hour – but international law should not be abused for this purpose.”

With which Talmon says: Chancellor Olaf Scholz may justify his hesitation in the Leopard delivery politically – he cannot hide behind international law. The problem is not international law, it does not prevent military aid to a war victim, the problem is something else.

Agnieska Brugger, Vice-President of the Greens, has just said in the Bundestag: The Kremlin “has long ceased to comply with international law”. Supplying the Ukrainians with tanks, training Ukrainian soldiers with western weapons – both are covered by international law. As well as supplying Ukraine with data on Russian positions determined by Western secret services.

What’s more, there are no limits under international law when it comes to arms deliveries. The West could also supply fighter jets or combat ships to Ukraine without violating international law, as Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk recently demanded.

Even in the federal government there are no two opinions on the question of whether international law stands in the way of a delivery of battle tanks. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann and Annalena Baerbock have agreed on this for a long time, and the traffic light coalition is not conducting discussions on this point.

As the government’s chief legal expert, Liberal Bushman explains the matter thus: “The UN Charter says: War is forbidden; we as states no longer wage war against each other and accept the existing borders. But if one state attacks the other, then the attacked state has the right to defend itself. And if the attacked state is supported by other states without them directly intervening in the conflict, then the aggressor does not have the right to shoot at these supporters, because the supporters are not party to the war. That’s the idea behind it. That is why it is clear under international law that we are not a party to the war if we supply arms to Ukraine.”

And when would Germany become a war party? If German soldiers were to fight side by side with Ukrainian soldiers, they – as combatants – could become Russian war targets. If German soldiers trained Ukrainian soldiers to use Western weapons in Ukraine itself, even behind the lines, they could also be fired upon by Russians. That is why this training takes place in Poland, in Germany and in the United States.

The main battle tank question is not decided legally, but politically. At the moment there is a struggle, and it is probably as the former head of the Munich Security Conference reports from Davos, where the World Economic Forum is currently meeting. Wolfgang Ischinger: “The whole world is waiting for the green light from Germany.” And while the new Minister of Defense Pistorius – by the way, speaks English – is as confident as if he had long been the holder of command and command authority, with his American colleague Lloyd Austin spoke, just an hour after he was sworn in, the Bundestag debated it.

It became clear that the chancellor would no longer have a majority in his coalition if he persisted in saying no to the delivery of battle tanks. The FDP and Greens argued in favor of this, as did the Union, only refraining from attacking the head of government. The central accusation of the Union was formulated by its defense politician Johann Wadephul: “Germany’s refusal is a unilateral effort that will let Ukraine down in a crucial situation.”

The SPD countered what the Union calls “hesitant” “is in fact clever leadership”. Ralph Stegner (SPD) opened up a new, interesting line of argument. He limited the leadership claimed by the Chancellor to humanitarian and economic issues, but not to military matters. In this way, the claim to leadership formulated by the chancellor has become half a claim to leadership.

What is already certain, one day before the showdown meeting of the western allies at the American base in Ramstein, is that Ukraine will get western main battle tanks. The English have already promised. It is still unclear whether Germany will deliver its Leopards and allow other countries, such as Poland, to send these tanks to Ukraine. Warsaw has now gone so far as to want to supply the Ukraine with German-made tanks without German approval.

Formally, that would be a violation of the German War Weapons Control Act. It would be a unique case within NATO, and Vladimir Putin, who is bent on splitting it, would rub his hands if Germany and Poland split over the issue. Therefore, Social Democrats also expect that there will be a kind of Ramstein turnaround: battle tank decision – tomorrow. At the largest American air base in Europe, it would be very symbolic.

If you follow the AfD, then there is already a war winner: the USA. Washington leases its weapons to Ukraine and then demands that the Europeans pay for them, said AfD man Peter Bystron. The war could not be won militarily, the Russians had over 10,000 tanks, and a few martens or leopards would hardly be a game changer.

This is how Putin’s deputy, the agitator Medvedev, argued once again today: A nuclear power has never lost a major war. The man should know better: the nuclear power Soviet Union lost the Afghanistan war, the nuclear power USA the Vietnam War, the nuclear power France the Algerian war