In his telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Scholz said that Germany would only deliver Leopard tanks if the USA in turn delivered Abrams-type main battle tanks, the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported. Biden has not yet made a commitment in the conversation.
According to "Bild", Scholz is concerned with delivering "main battle tanks only together" to Ukraine. He also noted this at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The Chancellor justified his position with concerns about a split in NATO.
The federal government initially did not want to comment on the reports at the request of the AFP news agency. Scholz had previously resisted the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine. The argument he used was that Germany shouldn't go it alone. In the meantime, however, Poland and other EU and NATO countries want to supply their own Leopard tanks to the Ukraine and are pushing for the necessary approval from the manufacturer country Germany.
According to "SZ", the United States, for its part, is demanding that the Chancellery not only allow other countries to supply Leopard 2 main battle tanks, but also supply them itself. On Thursday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will come to Berlin for talks with his new German counterpart, Boris Pistorius (SPD).
Before the visit, US Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl said in Washington that his country is currently refusing to deliver the Abrams main battle tank to Ukraine. The tank is a "very complicated" piece of armament. It is expensive, requires difficult training and consumes a lot of fuel with its turbine drive. "It's not the easiest system to maintain."
The United States did not want to supply the Ukrainians with weapons "that they cannot repair, that they cannot maintain and that they cannot afford in the long term because that is not helpful," Kahl told journalists. "It's not about a news cycle or what's symbolically valuable, but what really helps Ukraine on the battlefield." At the same time, Kahl did not completely rule out the possibility that the United States could supply Ukraine with Abrams tanks in the future.
The debate about the battle tanks demanded by Kyiv with increasing vehemence should also dominate the meeting between Pistorius and Austin in Berlin. The new Federal Minister of Defense will take office on Thursday morning and will receive his US colleague immediately afterwards. On Friday, both ministers will take part in deliberations of the 30 NATO countries and other countries of the so-called Ukraine Contact Group at the US military base Ramstein in Rhineland-Palatinate on increasing military aid for Ukraine.
Before the consultations, SPD leader Lars Klingbeil put on the brakes in view of the many demands for further arms deliveries. "We have done a lot to support Ukraine since the Russian attack on February 24," Klingbeil told the "Münchner Merkur". It is clear that Germany must check with its partners every day how Kyiv can be further supported. But that is "always a weighing process that you should think about for a few days," said the SPD chairman.
On the other hand, the Greens politician Anton Hofreiter pushed for a Leopard delivery to the Ukraine. "I wish Boris Pistorius every success in his new position and I expect that as defense minister he will work to ensure that we finally make Leopard 2 available to Ukraine," he told the news portal t-online.