Although the German government decided last week to supply Ukraine with Mortar infantry fighting vehicles, they seem wary of supplying Panther tanks. The official position still remains that there will be no commitment to hand over the Leopards until the next meeting of Western defense ministers at Ramstein Air Base on January 20. But the Marder decision only emboldened people at home and abroad.
Meanwhile in Berlin, it was noted with relief that the United States had not applied public pressure to German tank supplies.
According to TENEO’s analysis, this allows the chancellor to say that Berlin will deliver key equipment to Ukraine only after consulting with key Western actors, namely the United States, and following their instructions.
Foreign analysts point out that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed to extradite the martyrs only after consulting US President Joe Biden. However, the meeting may have come after French President Emmanuel Macron also announced the supply of armored fighting vehicles.
Until now, Western countries have only supplied Ukraine with old Soviet-origin tanks, but stocks of such vehicles and compatible ammunition have been exhausted, and it is increasingly known that Kiev needs additional support in the face of a new Russian offensive. .
Scholz and the related criticisms of his government reflect the opinion of a significant part of German society – TENEO emphasizes in the analysis. However, these voters are primarily aligned with the Greens and Liberals (FDP), a minor partner in Scholz’s coalition, which already successfully represents this line.
Members of the president’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), on the other hand, are more skeptical. Most importantly, Germany is divided based on:
According to recent polls, 49% oppose the Marder decision, while only 40% support it; 50% reject future cheetah deliveries, and only 38% support it.
Scholz and the SPD are the only governing party whose communication and decisions reflect this reality in the eyes of the public. In light of this, it cannot be in the President’s interest to assume a leading role in the arms race. On the contrary, by taking into account the highly skeptical voting public, Scholes can achieve that, after all, Germany continues to supply Ukraine with more and more important weapons.
Olaf Scholz thus finds himself in a difficult situation, as he must meet the demands of his constituents, who are increasingly skeptical of the obligations arising from the federal systems of Ukraine and Germany. Perhaps the German leader is playing on the fact that by slowly and gradually complying with the demands for arms delivery, he can strike a suitable balance between the two obligations.
Scholz’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said on Wednesday that London’s plans to supply Ukraine with British-made Challenger 2 tanks would not change the German government’s position. .
Warsaw recently suggested that German-made Leopards could be sent through a wider alliance of European countries.
A major obstacle to the transfers is Berlin’s green-light for the re-export of German-made weapons.
Hebestreit noted that he was not aware of any official requests from allied countries to jointly supply Panther tanks to the Ukrainian army.
According to German officials, Scholz’s position depends on US President Joe Biden. He already consulted closely with President Joe Biden last week when he issued a joint statement announcing the joint delivery of German and US infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
Hebestreit said on Wednesday that the decision by Scholz and Biden represented a qualitatively new step in the support provided to Ukraine, and urged the allies to see what further steps could be taken in international cooperation.
However, the British plans are expected to be formally announced at a Jan. 20 meeting of Western defense officials at the Ramstein military base in Germany, Politico has learned. It will provide Ukraine’s military with modern, Western-made tanks.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told German public broadcaster ARD on Wednesday that sooner or later Germany would agree to send the Leopards.
Although Germany has some rational reason not to do it, Germany will do it later.”
We have already seen this with self-propelled guns, the IRIS-T air defense system, and more recently the Marauders and Patriot air defense systems.
Kuleba finally added:
The pattern is always the same: first they say ‘no’, then they fiercely defend their decision, then they finally say ‘yes’. We are still trying to understand why the German government is doing this.
It does not appear that the US will decide to send tanks to Ukraine anytime soon. Negotiations continue between the US and Ukrainians over US-made Abrams tanks. But no progress has been made as the Biden administration believes a European-led solution is more appropriate. The US Department of Defense was officially reluctant to hand over the Abrams to Ukraine due to significant maintenance and upkeep challenges.
Ukrainian officials have suggested that the US send some Abrams tanks.
Cover photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images