Allegedly, Spain wants to deliver German-made tanks to Ukraine. If the reports are correct, Scholz has a problem for several reasons.
A few weeks before the NATO summit in Madrid, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is under enormous pressure. The reason: Apparently, the Spanish government now wants to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine. This emerged from a report in the Spanish newspaper “El País”. Accordingly, the left-wing government under Pedro Sanchez is planning to send anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine and also to be the first NATO partner to provide tanks from Western production. A project that apparently nobody in Germany was informed about, as was learned from government circles.
So far, the Spanish Ministry of Defense has neither confirmed nor denied the information. Defense Minister Margarita Robles only emphasized that arms deliveries will only take place in consultation with European and transatlantic partners.
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A very difficult situation for Scholz, into which a sister party brings him. Because in Madrid, the Socialists, the Spanish counterpart to the SPD, are in government. Actually, communication should work well here.
If the Spaniards really want this delivery, Scholz will have to make a decision. Because for the delivery of the Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Sanchez would need approval from the German government because of the so-called end-use clause, specifically: from Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). According to FOCUS-Online information, at least the Chancellery has not received any inquiries about this so far. However, given the Scholz government’s rather cautious weapons policy, it currently seems very unlikely that Germany will grant such a request.
In addition, there is supposed to be an agreement with the USA, Great Britain and France not to deliver western tanks. At least that’s what traffic lights have said so far. The fear that the Russian President could take such a gesture as NATO interference is too great. However, should Spain show willingness to supply German tanks while Scholz refuses this option, it would seem as if coordination between the partner countries is not working at all.
The suspicion also arises that Spain deliberately wants to position itself so shortly before the NATO summit and put Germany under pressure. One thing is certain: Scholz must quickly provide clarity here. Because in addition to international pressure, the desire to deliver modern battle tanks to Ukraine is also growing in the German parliament. That makes the alleged Spanish plans a double problem for Scholz.
After the opposition, specifically the Union, had spoken out in favor of approving possible requests from Spain, there are now also the first voices from the traffic lights. For example, the chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), is demanding that the federal government quickly approve a possible delivery of Spanish Leopard tanks. “I very much hope that Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck will immediately grant approval for the export,” said the FDP politician to “Spiegel”. Strack-Zimmermann wants to act and warns of the current situation in Ukraine: “We don’t have time for debates.”
But so far, Scholz has not been impressed by time pressure during his time as chancellor. It is unlikely that he will suddenly change his political style.