War in Ukraine: EU Parliament puts pressure on Scholz in battle tank debate

war in Ukraine
The EU Parliament puts pressure on Scholz in the battle tank debate

"We will continue to be such a big supporter": Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Davos.  Photo: Markus Schreiber/AP/dpa

“We will continue to be such a big supporter”: Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Davos. photo

© Markus Schreiber/AP/dpa

Poland and Finland want to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as part of a European alliance. Chancellor Scholz is still considering. Now the European Parliament is putting him under pressure.

The European Parliament has asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz to pave the way for the delivery of Leopard main battle tanks to the Ukraine to free. The chancellor should “without further delay” initiate a consortium of countries that can provide such tanks, according to a motion by the Greens, which was approved by the MPs in Strasbourg with a large majority.

Shortly before Ukraine’s western allies discuss further arms deliveries in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday, the pressure to make a decision increases scholz further on this issue.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, however, the Chancellor did not yet indicate any trend. He again pointed out that Germany together with Great Britain and after the USA, is already one of the largest arms suppliers to the Ukraine attacked by Russia. “We will continue to be such a big supporter,” he promised. Germany will deliver weapons as long as it is necessary.

Scholz also confirmed that he would only decide together with the allies on qualitatively new steps in arms deliveries. He explicitly named them USA and France. “That’s our strategy.” One wants to continue to avoid a war between NATO and Russia.

This Thursday, after being sworn in, Scholz’ new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) will be the first official act with his US colleague Lloyd Austin Berlin discussed further support for Ukraine. 20 countries worldwide have the modern Leopard 2 tanks, which are produced in Germany. The federal government must therefore approve any transfer of these tanks – no matter from which country. This is usually stipulated in the sales contract. That means: Scholz is in charge of delivering the tanks to Ukraine.

Poland and Finland have already agreed to make Leopard 2 available to the European network. Great Britain has announced that it will supply other types of main battle tanks to Ukraine. However, their Challenger 2 are comparable to the Leopard 2.

The European Parliament’s request to Scholz was included in a report on the common security and defense policy at the request of the Greens. This has no legal binding. However, the fact that a head of government of an EU country is asked to do something by name in such a report is considered unusual – especially since the request was submitted on the initiative of the Greens, who are part of the federal government.

“The pressure on the German federal government to finally allow the deliveries of Leopard 2 tanks is also growing in Europe,” commented the CDU foreign politician David McAllister (CDU) on the decision. He stressed that on October 6 the European Parliament voted in favor of supplying main battle tanks to Ukraine.

Loud calls for main battle tanks came from Ukraine again. Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk told the news portal “t-online” that he expected Pistorius to act “much more decisively and quickly” than his predecessor Christine Lambrecht (SPD). Germany must deliver “battle tanks, fighter jets, warships, multiple rocket launchers, artillery, anti-aircraft defense and of course sufficient ammunition”.

Wladimir Klitschko, brother of Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko, wrote to Pistorius on Twitter: “We in Ukraine are counting on you being serious about the sentence: ‘Ukraine must win this war!’ we now have one thing above all: Leopard II tanks!”. The Ambassador of Ukraine in Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, joined the demand in “Münchner Merkur” and criticized that Germany apparently does not have a long-term strategy for deliveries, but “always only thinks from day to day”.

Former Bundeswehr General Hans-Lothar Domröse expects the restraint in Berlin to be abandoned. “I expect that the federal government will make the commitment to deliver Leopard main battle tanks at the meeting of Ukraine supporters on Friday in Ramstein,” Domröse told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “I assume that they will not only allow the European partners to send the battle tanks, but also add “Leos” from the Bundeswehr’s stock – maybe in the low double-digit range.” In this way, a total of around 100 Leopard tanks could be delivered to Ukraine from Europe.

Tanks are considered important for recapturing occupied territories. The Leopard 2, on the other hand, is considered one of the most effective main battle tanks in the world. The Ukrainians want to use him to break through opposing lines in what has recently been a rather static trench warfare.

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