German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under pressure at home and abroad over arms supplies to Ukraine, with Kiev bolstering its refusal to send battle tanks that would bolster Kiev’s counter-offensive against Russia.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday criticized “disappointing signals from Germany” over the supply of more weapons.
“No rational argument as to why these weapons cannot be delivered, just abstract fears and excuses,” Kuleba said in a tweet.
“What is Berlin afraid of that Kiev is not.”
After initially refusing to supply Kiev’s armed forces with deadly weapons at the outbreak of war, Germany has since stepped up its arms supplies to Ukraine.
Piles of ammunition and rocket launchers have been sent to Ukraine by arms manufacturers and the German military’s own stores, as well as dozens of tanks and howitzers.
Kuleba’s outraged report sparked new debate over Germany’s alleged unwillingness to do more to support Kiev in its efforts to push back the Russian invasion.
But Berlin has so far refused to send the sought-after Leopard battle tanks, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz saying on Monday that Germany would not “go it alone” in arms deliveries without consulting allies.
Ukrainian forces have successfully deployed weapons supplied by Western allies in their counter-offensive launched in early September when they recaptured control of large swaths of territory in the northeast and south of the country.
Germany had “provided highly efficient weapons that are currently making a difference on the battlefield,” Scholz argued Monday.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht separately stressed that “no country” had sent Western-made battle tanks to Ukraine, while reiterating that Berlin has agreed to coordinate with allies over arms deliveries.
But the US embassy in Berlin said that “ultimately, the decision on the nature of aid rests with each country.”
“We call on all allies and partners to support Ukraine as much as possible in its struggle for democratic sovereignty,” the embassy wrote in a message on Twitter.
The decision not to send the weapons during the Ukrainian counter-offensive was “surprising and short-sighted,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak told the German daily Bild.
German arms maker Rheinmetall told public broadcaster ARD that 16 Marder infantry fighting vehicles it had repaired at its own expense were “ready to be delivered” to Ukraine, if officials in Berlin gave permission.
In addition to the Leopard battle tanks, the Marders are high on the list of items that Ukraine has asked Berlin to supply.
Rheinmetall was preparing another 14 Marders, with the potential to deliver another 70 vehicles from storage, ARD reported.
The furious debate over the Leopards and Marders was reminiscent of the earlier uproar over Germany’s initial stuttering response to providing military support to Kiev.
Scholz’s government only made a U-turn after many public speeches by Ukrainian leaders, and the chancellor has since said Germany would take “special responsibility” to help Ukraine build its artillery and air defense systems.
But Ukraine’s urgent pleas for Leopard tanks and Marder vehicles have so far gone unanswered, and even figures from the ruling coalition of Scholz’s Social Democrats, the liberal FDP and the Greens are urging the Chancellor to act. relent.
Berlin’s reluctance to send the armor came “at the expense of Ukraine,” the head of the parliamentary defense committee, FDP MP Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, told AFP.
Germany must “stop hiding behind other countries,” senior Green MP Anton Hofreiter told the RND media network.
“Sooner or later we will not be able to avoid supplying modern western main battle tanks to Ukraine,” he said.
Agreements with allies over arms supplies were not “set in stone,” Michael Roth, the Social Democratic chairman of the Bundestag’s foreign policy committee, told public radio Deutschlandfunk.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)