The German hesitation is over: Germany is supplying Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine and allowing other countries to do the same. Scholz has been criticized for weeks on the issue of Leopard deliveries – he is accused of being too hesitant. This is how the German press commented on his decision.
“Frankfurter Rundschau”: “Now Germany wants to send Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine after all. The winner of the week-long negotiation marathon is the government of Volodymyr Zelenskyj, which is able to defend itself with arms against the imminent Russian army offensive. The loser is Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He can claim to have persuaded the United States to also want to supply battle tanks to the Ukrainian army. But his long hesitation has turned many allies against him.
In addition, Scholz did not explain his actions, leaving all his critics plenty of room and provoking a veritable dispute in the traffic light coalition. The chancellor now has to explain his decision. But he can’t win much here either. All those who, like him, had respectable concerns will be disappointed by his yes to the tank delivery. And those who have pushed the pace will certainly not praise the chancellor.”
“Handelsblatt”: “Scholzen has been over since Tuesday evening. After months of debate, the chancellor decided to supply battle tanks to Ukraine. Not only that, the allies also seem to want to go along with it. The USA will probably also send main battle tanks. With that, the chancellor would have made a big splash. He then forged an impressive tank alliance. A strong signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the necessary help for Ukraine in its fight for survival against the aggressor. (…)
Union faction leader Friedrich Merz now only has to accuse Scholz of being too hesitant. But it was worth waiting. It’s just better to coordinate with allies and request “escorts” from the US. The chancellor is responsible, not the opposition, nor Anton Hofreiter or Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann. Since the reputation is not ruined, in the end Scholz is measured by the result. That’s something to be proud of.”
“n-tv”: “The federal government has really not led the way. Germany as a leading power in Europe? A Europe more independent of the US? Such claims degenerate into clichés for Sunday speeches. (….) On this Tuesday evening there was not only a liberation for Ukraine, but also for the Federal Chancellor. If only a small one. Cheering will not break out now. The image of the brakeman and procrastinator, who only moves under the greatest pressure, is not something that Scholz can get rid of that quickly.
“t-online”: One can consider the Chancellor’s long silence to be a completely unsuccessful form of communication. But in the end the solution looks the way Scholz wanted it: if battle tanks for Ukraine, then only in the largest possible coalition of Europeans willing to deliver and the nuclear power USA. He stuck with it, despite the public pressure. (…) But even if one regards the solution as a success for the German chancellor, a lot of diplomatic china was smashed along the way. Many Eastern Europeans are angry with Germany. Many in the US too. Scholz painfully bought his success, if you want to interpret it that way.
“Weser-Kurier” (Bremen): “With his tactics – which he sold as care and prudence, but which even well-meaning viewers saw as procrastination and discouragement – Scholz was not the only one who drove the traffic light coalition into a row on the open stage. Much more bitterly, because it was not dangerous for him, but for the country, he annoyed and irritated a large number of German partners: from the small Baltic states to the powerful USA. Should Washington now also send its Abrams to Ukraine: Then Scholz will present himself as a clever strategist. And he will forget how close he is to embarrassment: as a governor, simply not being able to explain his actions to the governed. Or, even worse, not wanting it.”
“Lausitzer Rundschau” (Cottbus): “For Scholz, “close coordination in particular with the USA” basically means: “We can’t do it without the USA.” (…) But the German urge to move in step triggers resentment in Washington. Because this contradicts two principles: On the one hand, trust in the solidarity of the alliance. Scholz at least gave the impression that he needed the American Abrams tanks as an insurance policy, so to speak – in case Western battle tanks really provoked a counterattack in Moscow. (…) On the other hand, Scholz only spoke a lot about European sovereignty on Sunday in Paris. Little of that has been seen lately.”
“Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung”: “It was correct that Scholz considered that Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not jump over every stick and withstood massive pressure. Because for Germany’s security interests it is relevant that other allies also supply tanks on a large scale and stand up for each other in the event of threats. Especially when Germany now sends Leopard 2 from Bundeswehr stocks and thus temporarily reduces its defense capabilities. It is clear that Scholz should have communicated better throughout the process. It is now to be hoped that the West will be able to supply tanks on a large enough scale for Kyiv to be able to effectively counter the expected Russian spring offensive.”
“Rhein-Zeitung” (Koblenz): “When it comes to questions of war and peace, a united coalition is needed. The traffic light did not always give this impression, which also damaged Scholz’s authority. It is now to be hoped that the West will be able to supply tanks in large enough quantities for Kyiv to be able to effectively counter the expected Russian spring offensive. If the long voting process has led to Ukraine being strengthened too late, the West must bear overall responsibility.
Just pointing to Germany would be cheap. Because all too often other EU states and allies have made it very easy for themselves by asking Germany to make deliveries, but were not willing to do so themselves. And Scholz? After the speech at the turn of the century, the Chancellor will soon need another big serve, from which his attitude to the leadership role and his path to the tank decision become clear. That way he could regain lost trust.”