A senior German politician for the Free Democrats, its coalition partner, said Germany had failed to show its decisive support for Ukraine by delaying the decision to send its latest battle tanks to the war-torn country.
Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the German parliament’s defense committee, made the remarks after Western leaders failed to reach consensus on supplying German-made Leopard-2 tanks during talks in Ramstein, Germany.
Kyiv says the new equipment will allow the Ukrainian military to build up its firepower for a possible spring offensive against Russian forces.
“History is looking at us, and Germany, unfortunately, has just failed,” Strack-Zimmermann told public broadcaster ZDF late Friday.
“At the very least, it was right to give the green light to our partners,” she added, referring to the desire of countries like Poland to supply the Leopard ships directly to Ukraine — a move that would need Berlin’s approval.
Strack-Zimmermann said Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s contact on the issue of tank deliveries was a “disaster”.
She added that on the one hand, Germany greatly supports Ukraine, but the failure to decide to deliver battle tanks gave a different impression.
The FDP politician said Russian President Vladimir Putin was likely to scoff at Germany’s indecision.Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann is Chair of the Bundestag’s Defense CommitteePhoto: Sex Creek/Flashpic/The Image Alliance
Rodrich Keswetter, a foreign affairs expert for the centre-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU), spoke of the serious damage to Germany’s foreign policy by the inaction.
“Germany has harmed Ukraine and its future position,” he said. Augsburger Allgemeine Newspaper.
Kieseuther said Berlin had only requested an inventory of tanks in the German army, saying it was “embarrassing and scary” to do so a year after the outbreak of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Robin Wagner, a green Greens politician and chair of the German-Ukrainian parliamentary group, agreed that the tank stock was “late” but “the right move”.
Rolf Mutzenich, leader of the center-left parliamentary group, the Social Democratic Party, said it was necessary to work in unison with the United States.
“It is important that we always take important steps together,” Mutzinich told Stuttgarter-Natrichten Newspaper. “Together means above all with us.”
And US Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who is currently visiting Kyiv, called on both Germany and the United States to provide it with battle tanks.
To the Germans: send tanks to Ukraine because they need them. It is in your national interest [Russian President Vladimir] Putin loses in Ukraine.
“To the Biden administration: send American tanks so that others can follow our example,” he said.
Meanwhile, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia issued a joint statement calling for Germany to hand over the tanks to Ukraine.
“This is necessary to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and quickly restore peace in Europe. Germany, as the main European power, has a special responsibility in this regard,” said the statement, which was posted on Twitter by Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Renkivics.
The US-led meeting of about 50 of Ukraine’s allies failed to reach a decision on sending a rapid shipment of German Leopard-2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
Despite repeated calls from Kyiv for new military equipment, the German government is wary of sudden moves that could prompt Moscow to further escalate the conflict.
According to media reports, senior US officials in the talks advised Kyiv to delay a major offensive against Russian forces.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he could not say when a decision would be made on the tanks, but Berlin was ready to “move quickly” if there was a consensus among allies.
“All the pros and cons have to be weighed very carefully,” Pistorius added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the group in a video address to “accelerate” weapons deliveries and stressed that the German Leopard tank was a basic need.
“Every day we make it clear that there is no alternative, and that a decision must be made about tanks,” he said.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov was quoted as saying that the lack of an agreement would not prevent Ukrainian forces from training on Leopard-2 combat tanks in Poland.
Nevertheless, the Allies agreed to billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment, including armored vehicles and ammunition, needed to push back the Russian forces.
mm/fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)