Debate about tank deliveries: no bans on thinking

First battle tanks, then fighter planes? Whoever asks this question is suspected of betraying Ukraine. Taking risks is never wrong.

Panzer rolls over a field

Leopard 2 – Ukraine wants this battle tank for its defense Photo: Sven Eckelkamp/imago

While the Chancellor still with the Ukrainian demand for the German Leopard 2 main battle tank wrestles, James Stavridis is already further. Western states should also supply fighter jets to Ukraine for its fight against Russia, the ex-NATO commander demands. He thinks that Ukraine also needs fighter jets. While attention is currently focused on ground activity, there is “a fight unfolding in the skies over Ukraine.” And there, according to the former US admiral, Putin is more successful than he has been on the ground so far. The request comes just as the delivery of western main battle tanks, the Challenger 2 from Great Britain, the Abrams from USA and the Leopard 2 made in Germany is hardly in question anymore. Is it legitimate to ask: where does it end?

If you ask this question, you will quickly be suspected of betraying Ukraine: “Do you want to wait until the Russians are outside Kyiv?” is one of the reactions that follow. The discussion is not only deeply polarized in private, the same mechanism is also taking place at government level. Any hesitation, any reference to joint agreements between the western allies on the part of the German government is seen as a sign of a lack of support, especially at a moment when the advantage on the battlefield seems to lie more with the Russian army.

For almost a year now, Germany has been under constant suspicion of not providing enough military aid to Ukraine. The balance of German arms aid looks significantly better than that of France. After the USA, Germany – along with Great Britain – is the most important supporter here.

Even in war it is not a good thing to impose bans on thinking. Even if it isn’t spoken out, the heads of government in the western alliance are worried about something else, apart from the publicly expressed fear of a further escalation by Putin: What is Ukraine doing with all the equipment? Will the Ukrainian army attack Russian territory with western equipment, such as the Leopard 2? How much do we trust the Zelensky government and its generals? And does the point come when the airspace over Ukraine needs to be protected?

The latter could put a great strain on the already shaky frame of NATO non-war participation. Giving Ukraine whatever military support you can is right. Shutting down any discussion of concerns and possible risks is wrong.

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