Still no German tanks for Ukraine against Russia

Posted Jan 20, 2023, 4:18 p.mUpdated Jan 20, 2023, 17:02

What everyone was waiting for didn’t come: German Leopard 2 tanks were not on the list of military equipment promised this Friday at an allied meeting in Kyiv, at the American military base in Ramstein.

This meeting, the eighth in Germany and the third between the defense ministers of Ukraine’s 50 allies (all NATO members, nearly all the European Union, Australia and Japan), admittedly, resulted in a huge list of weapons and ammunition.

But “no decision” was taken for the delivery of the Leopard tanks, deemed essential for Ukraine’s reconquest of Moscow-occupied territory. These tanks were, in fact, among the best in the world in terms of armor and strength and had an advantage, compared to French Leclercs, American Abrams or British Challengers, both of which were available in large numbers in several countries. with shells according to NATO standards and with slightly less maintenance/logistical support than other attack tanks.

Germany between the two seats

However, Germany’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, acknowledged that his government is “assessing” the possibility of delivering Leopard tanks to kyiv and could provide them quickly if “a political decision in this direction is taken”. He also made clear, vaguely, that his country would not “get in the way” of its partners, without mentioning a green light for the re-export of Finnish and Polish allied Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv. Spain or Denmark have. According to the German minister, this issue was “not discussed today”, which is hard to believe. Poland and Finland said they were keen to send their tanks to Ukraine in recent days.

This convoluted position, while his allies pressured him, demonstrated the embarrassment of Berlin, where Chancellor Olaf Scholz could not help but watch German tanks take on their Russian counterparts in Ukrainian territory. The German Minister of Defense added that the “impression” that Germany was against the delivery of tanks was “wrong” and that “other countries are also weighing the pros and cons” when it comes to the delivery of tanks, heavy tanks. The United States argued that they were giving up delivering their Abrams tanks (66 tons) at this stage due to insurmountable logistical and maintenance problems near the front.

Impressive catalog

In the absence of a deal with Germany on the Leopard 2 tanks, the allies have promised deliveries centered on the supply of missiles and shells, as well as anti-aircraft batteries. Friday afternoon, it was confirmed that the United States would provide 90 Stryker armored fighting vehicles, 59 more Bradley light tanks than announced in early January, 8 Avenger anti-aircraft systems with a range of several hundred kilometers, 590 TOW anti-tank missiles and a total of . On the other hand, the shipment, which was mentioned the day before by a generally knowledgeable source in Washington, of the American GLSDB guided bomb was not confirmed on Friday. Great Britain will donate the tanks, including 14 Challengers, the only ones supplied at this stage by the West.

Denmark intends to donate all of its French Caesar guns, numbering 19. The Netherlands is to donate ultramodern American Patriot anti-aircraft systems and plans to provide F16 fighters, among the best in the world but requiring months of training. Canada will provide 200 armored personnel carriers. Lithuania, helicopters and short-range anti-aircraft systems. Finland, $400 million in unspecified assistance, Swedish CV90 light tank and NLaw anti-tank missile. The French, Polish, Italian and Spanish commitments had yet to be formalized as of Friday afternoon. Germany has announced it will contribute 1 billion euros, specifically in the form of Patriot batteries, 7 Gepard mobile anti-aircraft guns and Iris T air-to-air missiles.

At the same time, Moscow announced on Friday heavy fighting along the front in the central Zaporizhia region, which until now had been relatively spared from fighting.

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