Arms shipments to Ukraine: poorly communicated

The federal government successfully supports an attacked country - and is still considered to be lacking in solidarity. Also because she is unduly hesitant to ask for help.

Marder infantry fighting vehicles stand in front of a hall with blue gates

Marten tanks stand in front of a hall at the Rheinmetall plant in Unterlüß Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa

It is phenomenal what a communicative failure the federal government has been since the beginning of the Ukraine war: in an unprecedented way supports an attacked country with weapons - and yet it is considered at home and abroad as lacking in solidarity and useless. This picture is wrong. While it is true that some other states deliver more. The USA, Poland, Great Britain and Canada are providing extensive aid, as are the Baltic States and a few other countries in terms of their size and economic power. France, Spain and Italy, on the other hand, are more reticent without drawing comparable anger. With howitzers and anti-aircraft tanks, the federal government has donated weapons that played an important role in the successful counter-offensive around Kharkiv. With the delivery of armored transport vehicles and other multiple rocket launchers, announced on Thursday, it is further strengthening the Ukrainian military.

The fact that this support is not adequately recognized is partly due to a distorted view of German Ukraine policy. The German misjudgments before the war caused a stubborn distrust. In addition, there are domestic political considerations, especially in Poland, where the PiS government traditionally tries to score points with allegations against Germany. In part, however, the federal government also has itself to blame for the fact that the distrust does not disappear - because of the hesitancy that precedes any new pledge of aid and the measure of which has long exceeded that of justified caution. This currently applies to the refusal by the Chancellery and the Ministry of Defense to also provide battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles or at least to allow their delivery from industrial stocks.

This artificial red line is in itself difficult to justify. Germany already supplies weapons with enormous combat effectiveness, which can be used offensively and can reach targets dozens of kilometers away. Leopard or Marder tanks are not cruel, dangerous or risky weapons by comparison, but could help Ukraine liberate more occupied territories.

This week one of the SPD's last counter-arguments crumbled, according to which an agreement had been reached with the NATO partners not to supply western main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers. Olaf Scholz, among others, has been claiming for weeks that Germany should not rush ahead and not get out of the alliance's "convoy". It's just stupid that the partners don't want to know anything more about such an agreement. "As much support as possible," the US embassy called for on Tuesday via Twitter. Each country can make its own decision about the type of delivery.

Germany follows behind

The statement raises the question of why the USA does not then provide any battle tanks. In Berlin, the version is circulating that the Americans are currently busy fulfilling a delivery commitment to Poland. In addition, they themselves lacked the capacity. In view of the immense US arsenals, however, this explanation is at least dubious.

But even if the information from the Chancellery were correct and there were voluntary self-restraints by the NATO states: they would not be unchangeable. If the federal government thinks it is right to ramp up Ukraine's armament further, it could campaign in the alliance to give up the stop line. She would certainly find comrades-in-arms. And she would have good arguments after the Ukrainian success around Kharkiv also.

On the other hand, it seems strange to stop at the constant reference to the supposed position of the NATO allies: why shouldn't the federal government succeed in finding its own position on such a central issue of all things and representing it in the alliance? Why does she seem to make her actions entirely dependent on decisions elsewhere? The federal government has recently been fond of talking about a “leading role” for Europe. Sounds scary? Do not worry. In reality, Germany is just lagging behind.

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