Germany agrees to send advanced main battle tanks to kyiv

BERLIN (HPD) — After weeks of indecision that increased impatience among Germany’s allies, Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz announced Wednesday that his government will supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and will approve orders from other countries to do the same.

The German executive explained in a statement that he will initially send a company of Leopard 2 A6 battle tanks, made up of 14 vehicles, from his own reserves to kyiv. The goal is for Berlin and its allies to contribute a total of two battalions, or 88 tanks.

“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability,” Scholz said after a meeting of his government in Berlin.

Germany was “acting in close coordination” with its international allies, it added.

The long-awaited decision came after US officials said a preliminary deal had been reached for Washington to provide M1 Abrams tanks to help kyiv push back entrenched Russian forces in its eastern region nearly a year into the war. .

Scholz had insisted that any effort to supply Ukraine with the powerful Leopard 2s should be closely coordinated with Berlin’s allies, especially the United States. By getting Washington to commit some of its tanks, Germany hopes to spread the risk of any Russian response.

Ekkehard Brose, director of the German army’s Federal Academy for Security Policy, said including Washington in the decision was crucial to prevent Europe from facing a nuclear-armed Russia alone.

But he also pointed to the deep historical significance of this decision.

“German-made tanks will face Russian tanks in the Ukraine once again,” he said, adding that this was “not (was) an easy idea” for Germany, which is taking responsibility for the horrors of World War II.

“And yet it is the right decision,” said Brose, arguing that it is up to Western democracies to help kyiv stop Moscow’s military campaign.

For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the German and US decision as “a rather disastrous plan.”

“I am convinced that many specialists understand the absurdity of this idea,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“Just from the technological aspects, this is a pretty disastrous plan. The main thing is that this is a completely obvious overestimation of the potential that (the supply of tanks) would add to the armed forces of Ukraine. It’s yet another fallacy, quite deep,” he added.

Peskov predicted that “these tanks will burn like all the others (…) Except that they are very expensive, and this will fall on the shoulders of European taxpayers,” he said.

Members of Scholz’s tripartite governing coalition celebrated the news ahead of the official announcement, which is expected to come in a speech to parliament in the early afternoon.

“The Leopard is free!” said German legislator Katrin Goering-Eckardt, one of the leading voices in the Green party.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a member of the Free Democratic Party and chair of the parliamentary Defense Committee, called the news “a relief for a battered and brave Ukraine.”

“The decision to approve (requests from other countries) and provide the Leopard 2 was difficult, but inevitable,” he added.

Two smaller opposition parties criticized the move. The far-right party Alternative for Germany called the decision “irresponsible and dangerous” while The Left, which has historical ties to Moscow, warned of a possible escalation in the conflict.

The latest polls show that German voters are divided on this issue.

The pressure on Scholz increased this week after Poland formally asked Berlin for its authorization to send the Leopard 2 it has in its reserves.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose country was one of the most active in the campaign to send the new heavy weapons, thanked Scholz after Wednesday’s announcement.

“The decision to send Leopards to Ukraine is a big step to stop Russia,” he wrote on Twitter. “Together we are stronger.”

Other European countries have also been willing to give up their battle tanks within a broader coalition.

But Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made it clear Tuesday night that he expected to receive more combat vehicles from his Western allies.

“It is not about five, ten or fifteen tanks. The need is greater,” he stated.

The German government has indicated that it plans to immediately start the training of Ukrainian tank crews in Germany. The package that is being put together also includes logistics, ammunition and maintenance.

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