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Germany insists on decision to supply tanks to Ukraine despite growing challenges

by SuperiorInvest

Western powers agreed on Friday to increase their military support for Ukraine, but Germany has been hesitant to deliver more tanks to the EU despite growing calls from Kiev and other allies.

“We cannot all say today when the decision on Leopard will be made and what that decision will look like,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said at the end of a meeting at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base with several defense leaders from around the world, including US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin .

He stressed that he intended Berlin to be ready if and when a decision was made on the Leopard 2 tanks. He added that on Friday he had ordered an inspection of Germany’s Leopard 2 stockpile, both in military and domestic industrial stockpiles, ahead of a future decision .

“We really don’t hesitate, we just balance all the pros and cons very carefully [cons] — we’re not just talking about delivering anything to anyone, this is a new kind of measure that we would take, so we have to be careful because we have an obligation to carefully and intensively monitor what the consequences might be for anyone in this conflict,” he said.

This is Pistorius’ second day in office following the sudden resignation of his predecessor Christine Lambrechtwhich has suffered intense domestic and international scrutiny for its ability to lead Berlin’s efforts in the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine has repeatedly requested battle tanks from its Western allies, with Germany’s Leopard 2 units of particular interest. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists that receiving supplies of Western tanks must precede another Russian attack.

Berlin officials appear to fear the arms shipments could escalate hostilities with Moscow, which has already accused the West of waging a “proxy war” against Russia in Ukraine. In the hours before the meeting, the Kremlin said Western tanks “will not change anything” for Ukraine and will not stop Russia from achieving its goals, Reuters reported.

Pistorius insisted that Germany is not alone in insisting on a decision on tank deliveries:

“I have to say that there is clearly no consensus. The impression that has been given at times that there is a closed coalition and that Germany stands in the way is wrong. There are many allies who say we share the view I have explained here.” again today there are good reasons for delivery and there are good reasons against,” he said, as translated by CNBC.

Germany is now ready to supply Ukraine with 50 Cheetah anti-aircraft systems. Earlier this month, Berlin and Washington agreed on a $3 billion aid package for Ukraine, which will see Germany supply Kiev with 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles and the Patriot missile defense system. In turn, the US will contribute 50 Bradley fighting vehicles.

“The mobilization of the world must overtake the further military mobilization of our common enemy,” Zelenskyy said this on Wednesday through a video conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Officials will now meet monthly, Austin said before the Ramstein meeting, stressing the importance of “nations of goodwill” focusing on “winning today’s fight and the fights to come”. The US also urged allies on Friday to “dig deeper” in response to the war in Ukraine.

Europe on standby

Poland, Finland and the Baltic states have given the green light to supply their own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Polish leadership has expressed some frustration that Berlin has yet to follow suit.

“Consent is secondary here, either we will get this consent quickly or we will do what is needed ourselves,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told private television Polsat News Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.

“The most important thing is for Germany, but not only Germany… to offer its modern tanks, its modern heavy weapons, because Ukraine’s ability to defend its freedom may depend on it.”

The UK announced it would provide Ukraine with 14 Challenger 2 tanks on Saturday, making the country the first to send such Western-made combat vehicles to Kyiv.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte he told CNBC on Thursday that whether or not to send tanks to Ukraine was a “sensitive decision”.

“I agree that an argument should be sent [tanks] to Ukraine. There is also an argument for taking decisions in conjunction with others, including our friends in the US,” Rutte said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

He added that he was “fairly optimistic” that the situation “can get to a landing spot.”

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