Ukraine is increasingly urging Germany to supply battle tanks for the reconquest of the territories occupied by Russia. After a meeting with his counterpart Annalena Baerbock (Greens) in Kyiv on Saturday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized that the Leopard 2 tanks were urgently needed to break through the enemy lines. "Every day someone in Berlin thinks about or discusses whether or not you can deliver tanks (...), someone dies in Ukraine because the tank hasn't arrived yet," he said.
Baerbock reacted reluctantly to the request, but agreed to an examination. "As the situation on the ground changes, we always look at our support and will discuss further steps together with our partners," she said, adding: "I know that time is of the essence." The Greens politician did not initially make any new commitments in terms of arms deliveries during her twelve-hour surprise visit to Kyiv. However, she promised that Germany would also provide military support to Ukraine "for as long as necessary".
Increasing pressure is now also coming from the coalition parties in Berlin. In view of the successes of the Ukrainian armed forces, SPD leader Lars Klingbeil called for quick decisions on further support steps. "Of course we in the western alliance also have to evaluate: Do we have to deliver more weapons now?" he told ARD. The FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann clearly advocated the delivery of battle tanks and armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. It is now not the time for "hesitation and procrastination". The Greens defense expert Agniezka Brugger told the Funke media group: "All options have to be put to the test again without prohibitions on thinking."
Baerbock agrees to help clear mines
Baerbock was the first member of the federal government to visit Kyiv for the second time since the beginning of the war. She traveled on Saturday night with a special train and a small delegation from Poland to Kyiv. Upon her arrival, the minister visited a minefield in Welyka Dymerka, just outside the capital, and pledged further support to Ukraine there to clear up explosive ordnance. In addition to the delivery of weapons, this is important to make life safer for people in the areas temporarily occupied by the Russian army.
Kuleba: "Guns, Guns, Guns"
Ukraine has been demanding German Leopard 2 battle tanks for a long time. But with the counter-offensive running at full speed and the recapture of large areas in the north-east of the country, it now has a military argument that its western partners find difficult to ignore. "Tanks are offensive weapons that break through the enemy's defenses. And with German tanks, we would liberate even more territory," emphasized Kuleba.
Scholz is waiting for the USA - resistance from Lambrecht
Germany is supplying Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles, multiple rocket launchers and Panzerhaubitzen 2000, i.e. heavy artillery pieces with a range of up to 40 kilometers. So far, however, Berlin has not been able to bring itself to provide battle tanks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) answers questions about it again and again with the sentence: Germany does not go it alone. No other NATO country is sending battle tanks to Ukraine either. One orients oneself there above all to the USA.
Of the cabinet members responsible for Ukraine aid, Baerbock is the one most likely to show sympathy for the delivery of battle tanks. The situation is different with Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. At the press conference with Baerbock, Kuleba made it clear that he sees the greatest resistance in the SPD politician. During his visit to Berlin in May, he had "the most open, hardest and most direct conversation" with her. He is a diplomat and therefore does not want to comment further.
Klitschko: "Deliver what you can"
The pressure from Ukraine on the federal government is now coming from all sides. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal made battle tanks a top topic in his meeting with Scholz in the Chancellery a week ago. The Mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko spoke at the weekend via the "Bild" newspaper with the demand for Leopard 2 tanks: "My request to the German government is: Deliver what you can to the Russian soldiers from our country be expelled quickly." Next week the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Ruslan Stefantschuk, will be in Berlin. During his visit, too, the demand for tanks should be at the top of the list of priorities.
Kuleba was confident on Saturday that the demands will ultimately be successful. "I am convinced that in the end German tanks will also be delivered to Ukraine," he said. "Only the German government (...) needs time to go through a development until such a decision is made."