Berlin still hesitating over Leopards for Kyiv

Germany continues to hold back on giving its consent for deliveries of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Many allies that are in favour of the deliveries had expected a decision in Ramstein last Friday. Poland is now considering acting on its own, an initiative German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said Germany would not seek to block. Europe's press assesses the situation.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Washington, not Berlin, has the power to deter Russia

The taz sides with Scholz:

“Scholz has apparently insisted so far that the US deliver Abrams tanks at the same time. Such a deal makes no sense militarily ... . Politically, however, it does make sense. It serves to spread the risk. Only the US can deter Russia from expanding this war. ... Washington can make credible threats, Berlin cannot. The fact that Scholz wants to line up behind the US on sending battle tanks may be only just about justifiable. But it is a rational assessment of the balance of power in the West: America first. Germany is a leading power only in the features sections.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Business interests behind the scenes

Behind the public debate, economic interests that no one is mentioning out loud are at play, Avvenire points out:

“Behind the scenes, a relentless economic war is raging between German and American industrialists. Washington sees the chance of a big pay-off. It has promised its European allies immediate deliveries of tanks to replace those put at Kyiv's disposal. Until now, Berlin has had an almost exclusive monopoly on the European tank market. But Washington is ready to undermine this. Business comes first.”

Kurier (AT) /

A feast for Russian propaganda

Once again, the spectre of Nazism is being evoked in Russia, Kurier sighs:

“It doesn't take much imagination to picture the photoshopped artworks - in old-fashioned black and white - images that Russian propaganda has presumably long kept at the ready: a few swastikas on a German Leopard tank rolling past a few sad-looking grandmothers in a village. That's the message that the Kremlin has been trumpeting out of every propaganda outlet since the beginning of the war: once again the Nazis are rolling towards Russia, and this time - history, schmistory - together with the rest of the evil West.”

NV (UA) /

Push with perseverance

In an article for NV, political scientist Volodymyr Fessenko complains about the Germans' hesitance:

“I believe many Ukrainians were disappointed after the Ramstein meeting on 20 January. Many are even very disappointed. ... But we should not give in to disappointment and bitterness now. We must react rationally. With patience and perseverance. ... Our overly cautious German partners need more pushing to make the right and inevitable decision. They are still a little immature.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

"Merkeling" a mistake in times of war

Gazeta Wyborcza stresses:

“The word 'Scholzing' has entered the vocabulary of European politics. It means promising help and at the same time doing everything possible to postpone it. This is reminiscent of Angela Merkel's policy of not making decisions under pressure and solving big problems with small steps. This approach may have worked in times of peace. In times of war, however, it is a shameful mistake.”

El País (ES) /

This is about joint responsibility

El País shows understanding for Berlin:

“Germany does not want its decision to be interpreted as one taken by its government alone. Media close to Putin have already invoked the Hitler tanks that invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa. Hence the German interest in diversifying and in Washington contributing with Abrams tanks. A decision of such import requires the utmost prudence and consensus. ... And this cannot be the responsibility of Germany alone, but the joint responsibility of everyone.”

Echo (RU) /

Leopard coalition is just Polish wishful thinking

Echo quotes a Telegram post by political scientist Alexey Yusupov, director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's Russia Programme:

“No, Germany did not initiate a European coalition on Leopard deliveries in Ramstein. But it also refrained from pulling the brakes on such an initiative. Despite the media salvoes and Warsaw's wishful thinking, such a coalition simply does not exist. ... Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Spain and Portugal will not send Leopards, Norway and Denmark have too few, Sweden is in no hurry to participate, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Turkey and Hungary are either neutral or against the idea. That leaves Finland, which is willing to provide 1 to 3 leopards, and Poland with 12 tanks.”

Visão (PT) /

A trilemma

In the end Berlin will not be able to prevent the deliveries, Visão believes:

“Berlin is facing a difficult trilemma: it wants to do what it can to give Ukraine the appropriate means to end the war, but assumes that sending Leopard 2 tanks, even from various other countries, would lead to a military escalation that would be difficult to control. ... Germany is also going through a historical drama: it started world wars on two occasions and certainly does not want to start the Third World War. ... However in order not to break the unity of the allies, both in Europe and Nato, the German government will have to accept that other countries equipped with Leopard 2s decide to send them.” (HR) /

Germany wants to play innocent writes:

“It would suit Berlin very well if Ukraine were to get Leopard tanks without its permission. In the long run, once it's all over, this would give it the possibility to send the chancellor or at least the foreign minister to Moscow with the excuse 'We couldn't help it'. The statement by the German government spokesman that Poland could send Leopard tanks to Ukraine even without permission from Berlin is a case in point. Poland has made no official request to re-export the vehicles, he added. This is very good for Berlin, because if there's no application there's no need for a refusal.”