What to expect from the meeting in Ramstein?

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group is convening today, Friday, at the US air base in Ramstein, Germany. The main question for Europe's press remains whether an alliance for the delivery of battle tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces will emerge. All eyes are on Germany in particular.

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Expressen (SE) /

An important signal from the EU Council presidency

The day before the meeting, Sweden's conservative government announced it will deliver 50 CV90 battle tanks to Ukraine. Expressen welcomes the move:

“Hopefully the announcement will encourage other European countries that have the CV90 [such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Estonia] to push for more vehicles to be sent. If the German government is stalling on the approval of further exports of German-made Leopard 2 tanks - from Finland and Poland, among other countries - it is important that the Swedish EU presidency shows resolve. Ukraine's cause is our cause. It should ge everything we can spare. Including Leopard 2 tanks.”

Postimees (EE) /

Make peace with weapons

Postimees affirms:

“It is to be hoped that the change of defence minister will help Germany to reach a decision on the Leopards. ... Nato has accepted Russia's challenge, as evidenced by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's statement in Davos in which he repeated the call for a significant increase in military assistance to Ukraine, arguing that weapons are the path to peace. Estonia's latest package of military aid is also a step in this direction.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

This is about more than tanks

Those who talk about arms deliveries to Ukraine must not remain silent about the strategic goals, warns the Frankfurter Rundschau:

“Is this about Ukrainian soldiers driving the Russian army out of the occupied territories so that Ukrainians are not oppressed, deported or tortured there? Or is Kyiv to be put in a position to be able to take back Crimea? The answers to these questions will play a part in determining the type and scope of aid for the battered country. It is not only the German head of government, Olaf Scholz, who has so far failed to give a clear answer to these questions. Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron have neither specified nor explained their goals in this regard.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Between defence and attack

The Western allies need to clarify this delicate question, La Repubblica concurs:

“Whether they will confine themselves to making sure Ukraine can repel the looming new Russian offensive, or whether they will equip it with enough weapons for a large-scale counterattack, up to and including the threatened reconquest of Crimea. This is the real political and military significance of the debate over deliveries of German-made Leopard 2 tanks. It illustrates the different positions of the Nato governments and also the uncertainties of the United States. ... The decision is a risky one because the political situation in Russia has never been as uncertain as it is now and the hardliners' faction could be strengthened.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Berlin’s OK on the way

Corriere della Sera reckons Scholz will pledge to deliver heavy tanks in Ramstein:

“In Davos, Olaf Scholz promised to maintain support for Ukraine, without mentioning tanks. ... But something is moving, as German ministers and officials have admitted in the last two days, and it seems that Berlin might give in to the pressure from Ukraine and some Western countries: tomorrow, at the supporters' summit at the US base in Ramstein, Germany may finally give the OK for the delivery of German-made tanks. Provided, however, as one hears from Germany, that the US sends its battle tanks too.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Have the courage to lead!

It's high time Scholz agreed to deliver Leopard tanks, writes historian Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian:

“The only realistic path to a lasting peace is to step up military support for Ukraine so it can regain most of its own territory and then negotiate peace from a position of strength. ... This has also become a litmus test of Germany's courage to resist Putin's nuclear blackmail, overcome its own domestic cocktail of fears and doubts, and defend a free and sovereign Ukraine. ... But in stepping to the front of a European Leopard plan for Ukraine, Scholz would be showing German leadership that the entire west would welcome.”

Postimees (EE) /

Tanks for Ukraine will also boost German security

Postimees comments:

“Germany's problem - and that of the Social Democrats in particular - is the legacy of the Second World War. The pacification of Germany was one of the cornerstones of European security. But the war in Ukraine shows that this order no longer meets Europe's needs. ... The EU's eastward enlargement was important for Germany: it created a comfortable buffer on its eastern border and extended stability in Europe. The same should be true of Ukraine - a Ukrainian victory would also expand Germany's sense of security. But unlike the EU's enlargement, stabilising Ukraine cannot be a technical process. It first requires engagement on the battlefield.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Stop focusing inwards

Germany must face up to its responsibilities, says NRC Handelsblad:

“This Friday the international community will look to Ramstein. Berlin does not seem to be properly aware that the eyes of Europe have long been on Germany, the economic superpower, home base of a large defence industry, the bridge joining West to East, a renewed Germany after a very significant change of era. But because of this change of era, the focus has been too inward, which prevents it from setting itself up as a pioneer in Europe. The government is aware of its responsibility. ... But now it must not only talk about it, but also translate it into action.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Secretly afraid of Russia's disintegration

Radio Kommersant FM sees good reasons for the reluctance of many Western states to supply heavy weapons systems to Ukraine:

“Apart from the Poles, the Baltic countries and other historic opponents of Moscow, not everyone agrees with the call for the disintegration, decolonisation and liquidation of the 'Russian empire'. Those who can resist getting carried away by momentary emotions and who can look to tomorrow, or better still the day after tomorrow, are frightened by the prospect of the Russian Federation being replaced by a nuclear-powered chaos zone. But because of the emotions at play in the West today, hardly any European or American politician will dare to say such a thing in public.”