Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has shown himself open to Poland’s plans to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard main battle tanks. Germany should “not stand in the way when other countries make decisions to support Ukraine,” he said in Berlin on Thursday. Green representatives called on Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to take a leadership role in organizing an internationally coordinated delivery of Leopard tanks.
Ukraine has long been demanding the delivery of Leopard tanks. On Wednesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda, speaking jointly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said his country was ready to supply these main battle tanks as part of an international coalition. However, this requires approval from the manufacturing country Germany.
According to Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD), the federal government has not yet received any official applications. “There are no requests from Poland or other nations for this delivery,” she said during a visit to the troops in Marienberg, Saxony.
After much hesitation, the federal government recently decided to make Marder infantry fighting vehicles available to Ukraine, but has so far refused to supply Leopard battle tanks. Prominent representatives of the Greens and the FDP have been promoting the Leopard delivery in the traffic light coalition for a long time.
“Chancellor Scholz is now responsible for coordinating the delivery of the battle tanks with the other Western heads of state and government,” said the Greens European politician Anton Hofreiter the “Tagesspiegel” on Thursday. Several European countries have already signaled their willingness to make Leopard 2 available to Ukraine.
The party called on the federal government to make a decision by the time the defense ministers of the Ukraine contact group meet in Ramstein on January 20. The date was “a good time,” said the Greens foreign policy expert Jamila Schäfer the broadcaster ntv. Germany must “take the initiative in NATO and the European Union” on the battle tank issue.
The opposition Union has long been demanding that main battle tanks be supplied to Ukraine. Poland’s move “increases the pressure on Germany to finally rethink here,” said CDU foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter to the editorial network Germany. In the event of further delays, Germany would have to “put up with the accusation of failure to provide assistance”.
“We make our decision in alliance with other partners and countries,” stressed Habeck. However, a distinction must be made between Germany’s delivery decisions and other countries’ plans to support Ukraine.
The SPD is still cautious. Group leader Rolf Mützenich said there were “no red lines” in military support for Ukraine. Ukraine should “get what is important for the right to self-defense”. At the same time, however, Germany must be careful “not to become involved in the war”.
Defense Minister Lambrecht reiterated the German government’s previous policy of not supplying any battle tanks itself. As with the delivery of Marder armored personnel carriers decided last week, Germany is always ready to adapt to changing situations. However, this can only be done in coordination with international partners, there should be “no German solo efforts”.