It’s been days all eyes turned to Germany. Days of hesitation in the face of a decision which could mark a reversal in relation to the line of conduct established since the Second World War. This switch is now effective.
As waited for the past few hours, Berlin has given the green light to the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, which insistently demanded them in the face of the Russian invasion, announced this Wednesday the spokesman of the German government. Germany will also deliver 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine from Bundeswehr (German army) stocks, according to a government statement. A decision hailed in stride by France and Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was “sincerely grateful”. “We sincerely thank the Chancellor and all our friends in Germany,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter, adding that he spoke on the phone with Olaf Scholz.
In a press release, the Elysée “welcomes” news which “extends and amplifies” the support “committed” by Paris with the delivery of lighter AMX10-RC armored vehicles. kyiv, through the voice of the head of the presidential administration, sees it as a “first step” which should not, however, stop there. “We need a lot of Leopards,” he added. Russia had promised to “burn” Western tanks if they were to be delivered. This Wednesday, Moscow denounced an “extremely dangerous decision” taken by Germany today.
The German announcement was made after the Council of Ministers on Wednesday morning. “It is the result of intense consultations which have taken place with the European and international partners closest to Germany”, specifies the spokesman of the government, Steffen Hebestreit.
Ukrainian training “must start quickly”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had been under pressure for several weeks from its Western allies, from Ukraine, but also from its partners in its government coalition, liberals and ecologists. “This decision follows our well-known line, which is to support Ukraine with all our might. We act in a closely concerted and coordinated manner at the international level”, according to Olaf Scholz, quoted in the press release.
“The objective is to quickly build two tank battalions equipped with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine,” the statement said. “For this, Germany will initially make available a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks, from Bundeswehr stocks,” according to the spokesperson. This 2A6 tank is a more recent and improved model than the 2A4, that in particular Poland and Finland intend to deliver. “Training of Ukrainian crews must begin quickly in Germany,” the spokesman argued. “Besides training, the package will also include logistics, ammunition and systems maintenance.”
And “Germany will give partner countries that want to quickly deliver Leopard-2 tanks from their stock to Ukraine the necessary permits for the transfer,” he concluded. Countries that have purchased Leopard 2 tanks from Germany for their armed forces must obtain permission from Berlin to re-export them. Several countries, including Poland, Finland and the Netherlands, have expressed their willingness to deliver these heavy tanks, demanded loud and clear by kyiv. The United States could announce the delivery of Abrams tanks, according to the Wall Street Journal.