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BERLIN – After weeks of intense pressure from allies, Germany has agreed to allow the donation of its state-of-the-art Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, in an apparent reversal of its leaders’ unwillingness to significantly increase military aid to help the country. Fight Russia.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking in parliament on Wednesday, defended the time taken to reach a decision.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the correct principle. We are dealing with very effective weapon systems, and it is the right thing for us not to provide these weapon systems ourselves, but always in close cooperation,” Scholz said.
The White House also appears to be leaning toward a decision on whether to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
Germany will initially send a company of 14 tanks, and Ukrainian teams will soon begin training for them in Germany, Scholz spokesman Steffen Hebestrate said. Germany will authorize other countries with their own stocks of Leopard 2 tanks to export them to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been demanding the tanks for a long time, welcomed the decision. he wrote in a telegram Germany’s donation of tanks has paved the way for Ukraine’s Western partners to supply similar weapons. “I am deeply grateful to Olaf Scholz and all our friends in Germany,” he said wrote.
But in Ukraine the celebration was slowed, as air raid sirens rang out as Scholz began to address parliament in Kiev.
Finland and Poland are among the countries willing to export stockpiles of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, as of Tuesday officially requested That the German government issues export licenses for its battle tanks.
German arms companies manufacture the Leopard 2, and the German government has final say over how and where the tanks are used, even if other countries offer to export them.
Criticism of Russia’s decision
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave his daily briefing shortly before the German announcement. said Any Western tanks sent to Ukraine “will burn like all the others” – the US and its European allies were wrong to think the tanks would affect the outcome of the war.
“I’m sure many experts understand the absurdity of this idea. Technically, it’s a failed plan,” Peskov said. “This is an overestimation of the potential additions to the Ukrainian military.”
Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to Germany Sergei Nechayev statement Berlin accuses Ukraine of pushing the conflict into uncharted territory.
“This extremely dangerous decision brings the conflict to a new level of confrontation,” Nechayev said.
“Again, we are convinced that Germany, like its closest allies, is not interested in a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis but is instead set on a permanent escalation with the unlimited pumping of lethal weapons into the Kiev regime.”
Germany wants to work with allies
Scholz had been refusing to allow his country or others to export Leopard tanks to Ukraine, saying Western tanks should be supplied to Kiev only if there was agreement among key allies, particularly the United States.
“One of the reasons is that there is not a clear majority in the German electorate to send in tanks,” said Sudha David-Wilp, head of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund. “Two, there was a lot of pressure within his own party about dragging him into the war. And then I think there’s also a real fear on the part of Russia about what that would trigger.”
US officials have been pushing Germany to send Leopard tanks, but the Biden administration has previously said it would not send US-made tanks because of training and maintenance challenges.
Berlin is also reluctant to supply weapons that would enable Kiev to invade Russian soil or that would potentially draw NATO into a wider conflict with Moscow. Scholz claimed that Germany was already in the Russian invasion of Ukraine about 11 months ago. One of the largest in Ukraine Financial partners.
“Germany will not go it alone, Germany will work together with its allies and especially our trans-Atlantic partners, in such a dangerous situation the US would be irresponsible for anything else.” The Chancellor said at an event sponsored by his center-left Social Democratic Party on January 9 in Berlin.
For months, public opinion in Germany has supported Scholz’s refusal to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. But according to a Forsa survey Last week, German public support for supplying battle tanks to Ukraine rose to an all-time high: 46% of those polled are in favor of delivering Leopard tanks and the same percentage are against it.