NATO before the Panzerwende?
Stoltenberg announces “heavier weapons” for Kyiv
01/18/2023, 8:27 p.m
The Ukraine conference in Ramstein could bring about a turnaround in tanks: the NATO Secretary General announced more clearly than before that Kyiv should receive “heavier and more modern” weapons in the future. Stoltenberg does not speak of German “leopards”.
According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Ukraine will receive heavier weapons to fight Russia. From the meeting of the Ukraine contact group at the Ramstein US base in Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday, the message will come out that there will be “more ongoing support, heavier weapons and more modern weapons.” It is a fight for one’s own values and democracy. Stoltenberg left it open whether there would also be announcements about the delivery of “Leopard 2” tanks.
The discussion among the Western partners has recently focused primarily on German battle tanks, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far resisted delivering to Ukraine. In his speech in Davos on Wednesday, the Chancellor did not say a word about tank deliveries. So far, Scholz has blocked it with the argument that Germany should not go it alone. In the meantime, however, Poland and other EU and NATO countries want to supply their own “Leopard” tanks to the Ukraine and are pushing for the necessary approval from the manufacturing country Germany.
Poland concerned about “insufficient commitments”
Polish President Andrzej Duda warned against insufficient commitments. He fears the support provided is insufficient, he said. It is crucial to send additional weapons to Ukraine to stop the Russian offensive – especially modern tanks and modern missiles.
Stoltenberg pointed out that it would also be very dangerous for NATO if Putin won this war. Because other authoritarian rulers got the message that brute force would get them what they wanted. “It makes the world more dangerous and we more vulnerable.” In this case, arms deliveries are the way to peace. The only way to a peace deal is to convince Putin that he cannot win on the battlefield.
NATO Military Council meets
However, NATO does not expect the Russian war of aggression to end any time soon. “Putin is preparing for a long war,” said Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana at the start of a two-day meeting of the Western Defense Alliance’s military committee. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has already mobilized more than 200,000 additional soldiers, is increasing arms production and is also acquiring more weapons from authoritarian regimes such as Iran. “We have to be prepared for a long road,” Geoana said. “2023 will be a difficult year and we must support Ukraine as long as it is necessary.”
The chairman of the military committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, called the meeting a “sacred duty” to always be prepared to expect the unexpected. It is also crucial to honestly inform the political leadership about strengths and weaknesses. “Today, modern warfare is as much about bits and bots as it is about mud and blood,” said the Dutchman. In order to strengthen NATO’s capabilities in the face of the situation, Geoana estimates that it is now necessary to expand industrial capacities for the production of weapons and ammunition and to make better use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. It is also important to invest even more in defense. The 2 percent target set almost a decade ago is increasingly being understood as a floor rather than a ceiling for defense spending, he said.
The current two percent target envisages that all NATO countries approach the target of spending at least two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense by 2024. According to the will of many Allies, it is to be replaced by a new goal at the next regular summit in July. At the meeting of NATO’s supreme military body until tomorrow Thursday, topics such as the ongoing strengthening of the eastern flank and the military situation in Ukraine will be discussed. Participants include the chiefs of staff of the member states.