Debate about Leopard 2 tanks: Scholz maneuvers on the tank question

Will Germany release the Leos? The chancellor is still silent – ​​and for this he has received criticism from his own coalition and internationally.

French President Macron and Chancellor Olaf Scholz at their meeting in front of the Elysee Palace

Symbolic wave: Macron and Scholz want to continue supporting Ukraine Photo: Lewis Joly/ap

Will Germany release Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine or not? What about continued military support for the country locked in a brutal war with Russia? Olaf Scholz was accused of hesitation or even failure. The pressure on the chancellor is increasing, within the traffic light coalition and from international partners.

There were great expectations on Sunday at a meeting in Paris between Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron. In a speech at the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Franco-German friendship treaty, both confirmed that the EU would continue to support Ukraine against the Russian aggressor. “Putin’s imperialism will not win,” said Scholz.

He and Macron called for a more confident EU role in the world. Scholz spoke of an even greater “turning point” and that one could no longer afford a “despondent Europe”. Almost all of the French and German cabinets had traveled to Paris, but the gestures remained symbolic.

The German government’s idiosyncratic communication on military rearmament reached a new high this weekend. Following one Meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group in Ramstein on Friday the new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) had obviously tried to rid the world of the impression that the Allies were actually taking a unified approach to releasing battle tanks and that only Germany was blocking it.

This is wrong, according to the SPD politician, who was supposed to represent the course of the federal government on the international stage for almost 24 hours in office. But Pistorius announced that on Friday morning he had ordered his house check the stocks of Leopard main battle tanks.

Lost Inventory Lists

However, only a few hours later reported the mirror, that such an inventory list has existed since early summer. Accordingly, 19 Leopard tanks could be spared. The responsible ministry is covered when asked by the taz. Reports are not commented on as a matter of principle, according to the spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Defense. And refers to the meeting of the Ukraine contact group on Friday in Ramstein.

There, Pistorius not only listed which combat equipment had already been delivered from Germany, from anti-aircraft systems to the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, but also named the spring package for Ukraine worth around 1 billion euros. Air defense has priority, according to Pistorius.

Nevertheless: In the traffic light coalition there is a lot of rumbling. The Chair of the Defense Committee Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP) found clear words according to Pistorius’ statements after the Ramstein conference: “History is looking at us. Unfortunately, Germany just failed,” said the FDP politician in today’s journal. She sharply criticized the chancellor’s indecisiveness and his communication as a “disaster”. The “bang” about how bestial the war in Ukraine is has apparently not yet reached the Chancellery.

Agnieszka Brugger, deputy leader of the Greens in the Bundestag, also expressed her disappointment with the conference in Ramstein. “Valuable time is lost again, which Ukraine does not have in view of the threat of a Russian offensive,” she wrote on Twitter.

Criticism has also been voiced internationally: Poland has been wanting to send Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine for a long time. However, this requires approval from the federal government. Poland’s hesitation was described as “unacceptable” by Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who announced that he would create “a small coalition” of countries that would provide Ukraine with “modern equipment” and “modern tanks” from their own stocks. The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania also demanded that Germany immediately deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

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