The successful advance of the Ukrainian army into Russian-occupied territory has fundamentally changed the situation on the war front in recent days. The effects extend to German domestic politics: the pressure on the Chancellery is growing to also provide the Ukraine with battle tanks and armored personnel carriers for its fight against Russia.

The initial situation:

Roughly speaking, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there have been two schools of thought within the traffic light coalition on the issue of arms deliveries. One warns that such deliveries could exacerbate the war. She finds support above all in the SPD. The other school of thought argues that arms shipments could help shorten the war, since Ukraine’s military defenses will force the Kremlin to the negotiating table. The Greens and FDP in particular support this argument. The representatives of the second school of thought feel strongly encouraged by the current military successes in Ukraine.

The attitude of the federal government:

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the SPD-led Ministry of Defense have so far rejected tank deliveries. In the early stages of the war, government officials warned that such deliveries could make Germany a party to the war and the war could escalate. In the past few days, another argument has come to the fore in the Chancellery: Germany cannot supply main battle tanks because its allies are not doing it either – and Germany does not want to go it alone. The chancellor also has to consider that pacifist sections of his party generally have major problems with tank deliveries.

What do the critics say about it?

Coalition politicians let it be known that they consider the “going it alone” argument to be a pretense. The SPD foreign expert Michael Roth, for example, points out that, to his knowledge, only Germany and the United States can deliver the tanks Ukraine wants anyway. Politicians from the Greens and FDP also called on the government to quickly seek talks with the USA and other allies about tank deliveries. They believe that a quick agreement on a joint approach is possible.

What are the allies saying?

The United States spoke up on Tuesday with a diplomatically worded request: The US embassy in Berlin called on allies to “provide as much support as possible” to Ukraine. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was clearer. He sees “not a single reasonable argument” why Germany is not supplying armored personnel carriers and battle tanks. The pressure on the Chancellery to make a decision is therefore growing.

What weapons has Germany delivered so far?

So far, Ukraine has received heavy armament equipment from Germany, for example for artillery and air defense – 24 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, ten 2000 self-propelled howitzers and three Mars multiple rocket launchers. The list of delivered weapons is continuously updated on the website Ukraine has repeatedly recognized these supplies as useful. However, the current events at the front are increasing the need for armored personnel carriers and battle tanks, she argues.

Does Germany even have tanks left?

The armaments company Rheinmetall announced on Tuesday that it could deliver 16 Marder infantry fighting vehicles almost immediately – if the federal government approved the export. The group repaired the tanks from old Bundeswehr stocks at its own expense, the group told ARD. 14 more martens are currently being processed, and 70 more could be made usable. Representatives of the Greens and FDP are also suggesting that the Ukraine also be supplied with Leopard II main battle tanks – if necessary from current Bundeswehr stocks.