Green light from Berlin: After weeks of back and forth, the federal government has decided to deliver Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine. Other countries are also allowed to hand over such tanks to Kyiv, as the German Press Agency learned from coalition circles on Tuesday. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has long been criticized for his hesitant approach - now the traffic light partners FDP and Greens are relieved. Massive criticism, however, comes from the Left and AfD.
For months Ukraine has been asking for Western-style main battle tanks to get back on the offensive against the Russian attackers. According to US media reports, the USA also want to provide their Abrams tanks, Great Britain has already promised 14 of their Challenger tanks.
The Leopard decision was well received in the German media, but the long road to it met with a mixed response. The press review at a glance.
"Die Zeit": It was an unusual and risky maneuver that cost valuable time and may have caused long-term irritation with the most important ally in Washington. But after the latest reports one has to say: It worked. First and foremost, this is good news for Ukraine, which is threatened existentially, and secondly, it is a success for the much-maligned Chancellor.
"Handelsblatt": "Scholzen" has been over since Tuesday evening. After months of debate, the chancellor decided to supply battle tanks to Ukraine. Not only that, the allies also seem to want to go along with it. The USA will probably also send main battle tanks. With that, the chancellor would have made a big splash. He then forged an impressive tank alliance. A strong signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the necessary help for Ukraine in its fight for survival against the aggressor. (...) In the end, Scholz is measured by the result. That's something to be proud of.
"Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung": It was right that Scholz considered that Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not jump over every stick and withstood massive pressure. Because it is relevant for Germany's security interests that other allies also supply tanks on a large scale and stand up for each other in the event of threats. Especially when Germany now sends Leopard 2 from Bundeswehr stocks and thus temporarily reduces its defense capabilities. It is clear that Scholz should have communicated better throughout the process. It is now to be hoped that the West will be able to supply tanks on such a large scale that Kyiv can effectively counter the expected Russian spring offensive.
"Rhein Zeitung" (Koblenz): If the long voting process has led to Ukraine being strengthened too late, the West as a whole must bear responsibility. Just pointing to Germany would be cheap. Because all too often other EU states and allies have made it very easy for themselves by asking Germany to make deliveries, but were not willing to do so themselves. And Scholz? After the speech at the turn of the century, the Chancellor will soon need another big serve, from which his attitude to the leadership role and his path to the tank decision become clear. In this way he could win back lost trust.
"Leipziger Volkszeitung": Olaf Scholz has put off supporters and opponents of arms deliveries with his hesitant attitude. Of course, the Chancellor has to weigh difficult decisions. However, the impression that eleven months after the start of the war the German government is not pursuing any forward-looking strategic planning for military support to Ukraine is devastating. It would also be helpful to explain the reasons for such decisions to the public, instead of resorting to arguments that end up looking like excuses.
"Lausitzer Rundschau" (Cottbus): For Scholz, "close coordination, especially with the USA" basically means: "We can't do it without the USA." (...) But the German urge to step in step triggers resentment in Washington. Because this contradicts two principles: On the one hand, trust in the solidarity of the alliance. Scholz at least gave the impression that he needed the American Abrams tanks as an insurance policy, so to speak - in case Western battle tanks really provoked a counterattack in Moscow. (...) On the other hand, Scholz only spoke a lot about European sovereignty on Sunday in Paris. Little of that can be seen lately.
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung": There has been a debate about the leopards for months, in which the American government also made it clear that it supports delivery. Scholz either didn't take these signals seriously or reacted too late. But others also contributed. (...) Since there were also signs of a change of heart in Washington on Tuesday, Scholz could still be successful in the end. Deliveries from America (and France) would be a good signal for the unity of the West and, especially in the case of the USA, also one of reassurance in the alliance.
"Süddeutsche Zeitung": The federal government recently demonstrated impressively why it so urgently needs a common security strategy: Chancellor Olaf Scholz only approved the delivery of battle tanks to Ukraine after some quarrels in the coalition and with allies. (...) The maneuvering method that Scholz uses to tie in with Merkel has proven to be devastating in the case of Russia. A security strategy cannot prejudge any foreign trade regulation, but it must offer guidelines that are specific and binding, including when it comes to human rights - otherwise you can skip the matter.