Will Germany allow Poland to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine? “If we were asked the question, we would not oppose” on the delivery to kyiv of these German-made vehicles, said Sunday January 22 the head of German diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock. The environmental minister governs in coalition with the social democrats of Olaf Scholz and the liberals.
“For the moment, the question has not been asked” by Poland, required to make an official request to Berlin, specified the minister, interviewed in Paris on the French channel LCI.
The final decision, however, belongs to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has so far refused to comment on the question of these indirect deliveries, just like on that of directly supplying Leopards from German stocks.
“The decision (…) depends on many factors and is taken at the chancellery”underlined for his part the new German Minister of Defense, Boris Pistorius, in an interview on German television ARD, broadcast shortly after the interview with Annalena Baerbock.
Mr. Pistorius, a Social Democrat like Chancellor Scholz, was however not questioned about the statements of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Germany under pressure
The German government is under increasing pressure to supply Ukraine with Leopard heavy tanks, which could have a significant impact on the battlefield against Russian troops. “I understood how important these tanks are, we are fully aware of that”added Ms. Baerbock who recently visited Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine.
Poland and Finland have offered to deliver Leopards that they own, but they need official approval from Berlin for re-export.
Again questioned about the deliveries of Leopard tanks on Sunday in Paris during a press conference alongside Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz was evasive. He reiterated the need to act in consultation with Ukraine’s allies on arms delivery issues.
Fear of a military escalation with Moscow and Berlin’s reluctance to assume leadership in the Western camp led Germany to hesitate about sending the weapons requested by kyiv.
“History is watching us”
Among the Liberals, another partner of the German coalition, the teeth are also gnashing. It would have been “at least just to give the green light to the partners” for deliveries of Leopards from their stockpiles, liberal Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann lamented of Ramstein’s talks.
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“History is watching us and Germany has unfortunately just failed”judged the chairman of the Bundestag Defense Committee.
In opposition, the Conservatives also regret the procrastination of the Chancellor. According to the deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Johann Wadephul, “German industry can almost immediately deliver nearly 200 Leopard 1 type tanks”.
On Sunday, the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, once again stepped up to the plate, calling it a“unacceptable” Berlin’s refusal to supply heavy Leopard tanks to kyiv, which insistently demands them when the Russians are on the offensive, in eastern Ukraine in particular.
The foreign ministers of the three Baltic countries had called on Germany on Saturday to deliver ” right now “ Leopard tanks to Ukraine to help stop Russian aggression.