War in Ukraine: The Great Battle for Tanks and Germany’s Hesitations

“We do a lot, and that’s why it’s even more tragic that with clumsy handling in individual areas – despite doing so much – we have largely destroyed our reputation». With this phrase he captured the Anton Hofreiterthe Green party’s foreign affairs minister, the domestic and international impact of the delayed delivery of German tanks Leopard 2 in Ukraine, at an absolutely critical moment for the outcome of the war.

With his party part of the governing coalition, Hofreiter admitted that the obstructionism on the part of Berlin reduces his country’s leadership position within the EU, but also its international role Germany. And this, because its refusal to provide itself or to allow the countries in possession of German tanks to send a significant number of them to Kyiv, has in fact “tied” the hands of the Allies.

The “blackout” in Western support due to the negative attitude of the German Chancellor, Olaf Solz against the disposition of the Leopard 2 was fully reflected in the meeting held last Friday by representatives of the member states of the North Atlantic Alliance at the German base Rammstein, where no “white smoke” finally emerged for the provision of tanks directly to Ukraine, although the pressure on Berlin was more than suffocating. In the meantime, Kyiv is almost desperate for these tanks, stirring up the global community, to the point that the German Chancellor’s name has been accompanied by thousands of accusatory comments on social media around the globe in the last few hours. In a line of defense and under the weight of international reactions, the new Minister of Defense of Germany, Boris Pistorius said that “there will be a decision soon, whatever it is” regarding the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, while admitting that they are necessary for a Ukrainian offensive in the eastern Luhansk and Donbas regions. “That they need tanks, that they need an aggressive move in relation to Donbass, in relation to Luhansk, that is absolutely clear, but how it will be equipped then remains to be seen, but there are other states that can contribute” said the German Minister of Defense, requesting at the same time that the resulting decision be “closely coordinated» among the Allies. “We are talking about heavily armored weapons that can and should be used for offensive purposes, and we have to weigh very carefully when to bring them into the equationPistorius concluded.

Meanwhile, the EU approved yesterday additional financial aid to Ukraine of height 500 million euros, also providing funds for the training of Ukrainian soldiers, given that recently Moscow has been renewing its front line, with new recruits trained after the partial mobilization of last September. Embarrassed, however, to a large extent by Germany’s attitude towards the Leopards, Brussels meaningfully “points” to the statement of the German Foreign Minister, Analenas Burbok, which stressed that the German government would not block the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine by other EU member states, indirectly “photographing” Poland. The latter has announced through its Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki that “we will not stand idly by and watch Ukraine bleed to death”, explaining that he intends to bypass Berlin by forming a bloc of countries that wish to equip Ukraine with tanks “now”. It should be noted that Poland has 247 Leopard tanks in its possession, Germany maintains an estimated 300, while 2,000 exist in Europe, scattered in arsenals among its 13 countries. But things are getting even more complicated based on the fact that Moscow is intensifying its threats to the West in the prospect of providing Western tanks to Ukraine, with Kremlin Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov to state yesterday that “Ukrainians will suffer if the West sends tanks to Kyiv“, to also add that all the [δυτικές] countries are responsible for the consequences that the supply of arms to Ukraine will have.

The causes

At the same time, despite international disapproval, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is keeping Leopard tanks in German hangars, given that shortly before the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Moscow is intensifying its threats against the West, in the perspective of escalating the war to total. In an unprecedented statement yesterday, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, claimed that in Ukraine “We are no longer talking about a Russia-West hybrid war, but about an almost real one“, which intensifies the global fear of a generalization of the war or expansion of Russia’s attacks to other points, in the near future. In this perspective, Chancellor Soltz seems to be keeping them well guarded national reserves, given that the close Berlin-Moscow relations of the Merkel days have irretrievably passed. In addition, a major headache for the Russian President is the current state of the German armed forces, which fall far short of the deterrent power that an economically strong country of Germany’s caliber should possess. In this direction, “we are huge supporters of Ukraine, however there is still a need to discuss the delivery of the Leopard 2 and we will take that time” emphasized the German government representative yesterday, a time that for several analysts is directly related to the effort of a “crude” and almost forced reorganization of the forces of the German army.

Consequently, the German Government representative recalled – commenting on his country’s attitude in relation to the tanks – the condition set by Germany for their immediate dispatch to Ukraine, saying that the talks with the US “they are ongoing and constructive, we exchange views clearly and the chancellor continues to support very close coordination with the U.S.». In fact, Berlin implicitly wants to balance Ukraine’s tank deployment with Northern Hemisphere power, actively demanding that the US also supply Ukraine with plenty of tanks, specifically the M1 Abrams.

Although Washington is rejecting Germany’s request for now, claiming that the supply and maintenance of M1 Abrams tanks is impossible in the war conditions prevailing in Ukraine, Poland is nevertheless counting down to giving its own Leopard tanks to Kyiv, although the German side argues that it has not yet received the specific request institutionally, so that the relevant procedures can be initiated.

In front of the impasse, however, the chief of staff of the president of Ukraine Andriy Germakin a Telegram post yesterday noted that Kyiv needs several hundred tanks from the Western allies. “We need tanks – not 10 to 20 – but many hundreds,” Germak said characteristically, adding that “our goal is to (restore) the 1991 borders and punish the enemy, who will pay for his crimes». In practice, Kiev’s dramatic appeal for the supply of tanks, mainly Leopard 2, is based on Ukraine’s urgent need to return to the 1991 borders, i.e. the reoccupation of Crimea which has been under Russian control since 2014, but also those areas that Moscow illegally annexed in the last eleven months, before negotiations to end the war began, in order to maintain hopes of “saving” a sufficient percentage of its territory.

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