A senior German politician from the coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) has said that Germany has failed to show decisive support for Ukraine by delaying a decision on sending state-of-the-art battle tanks to the war-torn country.
After Western leaders failed to agree to purchase German-made Leopard-2 tanks during talks in Ramstein, Germany, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the German parliament’s defense committee, made the comments.
Kyiv says the new hardware will allow the Ukrainian military to boost its firepower for a possible spring offensive against Russian forces.
“History is looking at us and Germany has, unfortunately, just failed,” Strack-Zimmermann told public broadcaster ZDF late Friday.
“At the very least, it would have been the right thing to give our partners the green light,” she added, referring to the desire by countries like Poland to supply the Leopard directly to Ukraine — a move that needs a sign-off by Berlin.
"Today's Ramstein will strengthen our resilience. Yes, we will still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks, but every day we make it more obvious that there is no alternative to approval of a decision".
Source: President Zelensky
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) January 20, 2023
Strack-Zimmermann said Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s communication on the tank delivery issue had been a “disaster.”
On the one hand, Germany is massively supporting Ukraine but the lack of a decision to deliver the battle tanks gave a different impression, she added.
The FDP politician said Russian President Vladimir Putin would likely laugh at Germany’s indecision.
Other German lawmakers Weigh In
Roderich Kiesewetter, the foreign affairs expert of the center-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU), spoke of serious foreign policy damage for Germany due to the lack of a decision.
“Germany has done a disservice to Ukraine and its own future position,” he told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
Kiesewetter said he was left speechless that Berlin has only just ordered an inventory of tanks in the Bundeswehr, saying that doing this a year after Russia’s war in Ukraine broke out was “embarrassing and frightening.”
⚡️Minister: Ukrainian blood is the price of hesitation over Leopard tank supplies.
"Ukrainian blood is shed for real. This is the price of hesitation over Leopard deliveries. We need action, now," Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said on Jan. 20.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) January 21, 2023
Robin Wagener, a politician of the environmentally-friendly Green Party and chair of the German-Ukrainian parliamentary group, agreed that the tank inventory was “late” but a “right step.”
Rolf Mützenich, the center-left Social Democrats’ parliamentary group leader, said it was necessary to act in unison with the United States.
“It is important that we always take important steps together,” Mützenich told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper. Together means working closely with the United States.
Do We Know What Came Out Of The Negotiations In Ramstein?
None of the roughly 50 Ukraine allies present at the US-led summit agreed to rush transport German Leopard-2 battle tanks to Ukraine.
The German administration is leery of taking any unexpected actions that could encourage Moscow to further escalate the crisis, despite Kyiv’s repeated requests for the new military hardware.
Reports indicate that senior American officials at the meeting urged Kyiv to delay plans to launch a massive offensive against Russian forces.
Boris Pistorius, Germany’s minister of defense, said he couldn’t say when a decision on the tanks would be made but said Berlin was ready to “act fast” if there was agreement among allies.
Pistorius chimed in, “All pros and cons must be examined extremely carefully.”
In a video speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with the coalition to “speed up” the delivery of weapons, highlighting the urgent need for German Leopard tanks.
Each passing day makes it more clear that a choice on tanks must be taken, he said.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was quoted as saying that his country’s armed forces would continue training on Leopard-2 combat tanks in Poland despite the lack of an agreement.
However, the allies did greenlight billions of dollars worth of military weaponry, including plenty of armored vehicles and munitions required to beat back Russian forces.