Germany has not decisively supported Ukraine by delaying a decision on sending state-of-the-art battle tanks to the war-torn country, a senior German politician from coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) said.
Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chairman of the German parliament’s defense committee, made the remarks after Western leaders failed to reach a consensus during talks in Germany’s Ramstein on the delivery of German-made Leopard-2 aircraft. tanks.
Kiev says the new hardware will enable the Ukrainian army to increase its firepower for a possible spring offensive against Russian forces.
“History is looking at us and Germany has unfortunately failed,” Strack-Zimmermann told public broadcaster ZDF on Friday evening.
“It would at least have been right to give our partners the green light,” she added, referring to the desire of countries like Poland to supply the Leopard directly to Ukraine – a move that must be approved by Berlin.
Strack-Zimmermann said Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s communication on the tank supply issue had been a “disaster”.
On the one hand, Germany is massively supporting Ukraine, but the lack of decision to deliver the main battle tanks gave a different impression, she added.
The FDP politician said Russian President Vladimir Putin would probably laugh at Germany’s indecisiveness.
Other German legislators weigh in
Roderich Kiesewetter, the foreign policy expert of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU), spoke of serious damage to Germany’s foreign policy by the lack of a decision.
“Germany has done Ukraine and its own future position a disservice,” he said Augsburg general newspaper.
Kiesewetter said he was speechless that Berlin had only just ordered an inventory of tanks in the Bundeswehr, saying it was “shameful and frightening” to do so a year after the outbreak of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Robin Wagener, a politician of the environmentally friendly Green Party and chairman of the German-Ukrainian parliamentary group, agreed that the tank inventory was “late” but a “right step”.
Rolf Mützenich, the party leader of the center-left Social Democrats, said it was necessary to act together with the United States.
“It is important that we always take important steps together,” Mützenich told the Stuttgart news newspaper. “Together means especially with the US.”
What was the outcome of the Ramstein talks?
The US-led meeting of some 50 of Ukraine’s allies failed to reach a decision on a rapid shipment of German Leopard-2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.
Despite repeated calls for the new military hardware from Kiev, the German government is wary of any sudden moves that could lead Moscow to further escalate the conflict.
During the talks, senior US officials advised Kiev to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces, according to media reports.
Germany’s defense minister Boris Pistorius said he could not say when there would be a decision on the tanks, but Berlin was prepared to “act quickly” if there was consensus among allies.
“All pros and cons must be weighed very carefully,” Pistorius added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video address, urged the group to speed up arms deliveries and emphasized that Germany’s Leopard tank was a primary need.
“Every day we make it clearer that there is no alternative, that a decision about tanks has to be made,” he said.
The lack of agreement will not prevent Ukrainian armed forces from training on Leopard-2 main battle tanks in Poland, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.
However, the Allies did approve billions of dollars in military hardware, including enough armored vehicles and ammunition needed to push back Russian forces.
mm/fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)