Germany is struggling with weapons for Ukraine. Some of the allies even doubted Berlin’s support. Roman Goncharenko believes that a yes to the supply of Leopard 2 tanks could allay these doubts.
It’s a déjà vu, that we’ve already had that feeling: Ukraine and its partners in the West are watching Russian troop build-ups, for example in Belarus, with growing nervousness and are puzzling over where and when President Vladimir Putin could strike. Almost a year after invading Ukraine, it remains part of his attrition tactics.
Germany is coming under increasing pressure to deliver more weapons – and hesitates, while Great Britain is leading the way and wants to be the first NATO member to send modern battle tanks. Criticism of Berlin is growing, Germany bashing in the Twitter bubble is back in fashion.
The old rifts between Eastern Europe and Germany threaten to open up again. This is reminiscent of the situation in winter 2021, when Estonia wanted to send D-30 howitzers from GDR stocks to Ukraine, but Berlin objected and only agreed after the Russian invasion.
The crystallization point this time is what is currently probably the best-known and most sought-after product in the German armaments industry, the Leopard 2 battle tank. It has also become a symbol.
Kyiv has been asking Berlin for these tanks for months and has so far heard no – albeit less and less convincingly.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck recently said that Berlin should not stand in the way if other countries wanted to deliver.
Poland and a few other NATO countries are ready to give their own Leopard 2 to Ukraine, but they need approval from Germany, where they were developed.
At the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Berlin was widely and justifiably criticized for its hesitant attitude. This reluctance and the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline were the biggest German mistakes before the invasion. Since then, an impressive bug fix has been made.
Germany ended its dependence on Russian energy supplies at record speed, and arms supplies to Ukraine ramped up.
Just a few weeks ago, Berlin announced that it would deliver the Marder infantry fighting vehicle and a Patriot anti-aircraft system to Ukraine.
These are no small things and the thanks from Kyiv could be louder. Leopard 2 tanks are a chance to dispel last doubts about German reliability, finally correct the previous mistakes and close this chapter.
Berlin’s approval must come, and it will come. The pressure is increasing, the signs are multiplying, it’s only a matter of time. A further delay without image damage is hardly possible. After Great Britain’s announcement, it would no longer be going it alone, which the Chancellor rejected out of consideration for the skepticism of the population.
In his policy article for Foreign Affairs magazine in December, Olaf Scholz wrote that Germany was ready “to take responsibility as one of the main guarantors of security in Europe”. Among other things, he promised to train and equip Ukrainian armed forces.
Approving Leopard 2 would be a step in the right direction: the faster the better. The next opportunity would be the meeting of defense ministers on aid to Ukraine at the US base in Rammstein later this week.
The new Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has the unique opportunity to arrive with a historic announcement and to give the go-ahead for tank deliveries. Ukraine and its partners don’t have much time, the even more brutal and bloodier phase of the war is imminent. Germany can no longer afford any further restraint.
The original of this article “Tank deliveries are an opportunity for error correction” comes from Deutsche Welle.