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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ramstein Conference: Disappointment after the absence of a main battle tank decision

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Germany is not yet delivering any tanks to Ukraine – and is not officially giving its partners permission either. After the pressure on Berlin, the question marks are growing as to why the government is acting like this.

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Politicians from the traffic light coalition and the opposition have expressed their disappointment at the further postponed decision on the delivery of German battle tanks to Ukraine. The chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FPD), said on Friday evening in the ZDF “heute journal”: “At least a signal would have been right to give the partners the green light.” By that she meant the desire of countries like Poland to deliver their own Leopard-2 from German production to the Ukraine. However, they need a permit from Berlin for this.

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“History is looking at us, and unfortunately Germany just failed,” complained Strack-Zimmermann. The communication, especially from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on this issue was a “catastrophe”, because on the one hand Germany supports Ukraine massively, but the lack of a decision on the battle tanks creates a different impression. Scholz remains guilty of explanations. In her view, the new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) is “on the chain,” said Strack-Zimmermann. However, she is certain that the Leopard-2 will ultimately be delivered to Ukraine.

Ukraine conference in Ramstein

Despite considerable pressure from Ukraine and its supporting states, the federal government has not yet made a decision on the delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Kyiv. Yesterday, the allies met for a Ukraine conference in Ramstein, at which further billions in aid for the country attacked by Russia were agreed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his video message distributed every evening in Kyiv on Friday evening that he heard a lot of understanding for his country’s needs at the talks in Ramstein. “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 choosing tanks.”


The Union now fears serious foreign policy damage. “Germany has done Ukraine and itself a disservice for the future position,” said the CDU foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter of the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Saturday). “Unfortunately, the result of the Ramstein meeting is further isolation for Germany,” criticized Kiesewetter. It also leaves him speechless that it was only the new Minister of Defense who commissioned an inventory of the available Leopard 1 and 2 in Bundeswehr and industrial stocks. “It is embarrassing and frightening that Germany apparently only remembered this almost a year after the beginning of the war.”

The chairman of the German-Ukrainian parliamentary group, Robin Wagener (Greens), sees the measure announced by Pistorius differently: “The fact that the new defense minister is finally taking an inventory to check what we can continue to deliver is a later but correct step,” he shared. “I assume that on this basis Germany will quickly give its impulse for the coordinated delivery of battle tanks.”

The German Greens in the European Parliament were much more critical: “Chancellor Scholz annoyed our European partners with his negative attitude towards European initiatives to supply Leopard tanks,” said the spokesman for the German group, Rasmus Andresen, the editorial network Germany (RND / Saturday). .

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich stressed that it was important to act in unison with the United States on the issue. “It is important that we always take important steps together,” said Mützenich of the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten” (Saturday), “Together means: also and above all with the USA. The delivery of battle tanks is like that a step.”

Recently there had been reports that Scholz had made the delivery of the US Abrams main battle tank a condition for the possible dispatch of German main battle tanks. However, according to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Pistorius had made it clear that there was no such connection.

Source: Stern

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