Chancellor Olaf Scholz has criticized the debate over the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine. "It is idiosyncratic that this debate is being held. Some people have to ask themselves: why are they asking the question when it is about helping the Ukrainians," said Scholz yesterday evening (local time) at a press conference in Santiago de Chile. A serious debate is now necessary and not "an outbidding competition (...), in which perhaps domestic political motives are in the foreground instead of supporting Ukraine".
In an issue as important as arms deliveries, it must be about the matter and rational considerations, emphasized Scholz. He recalled that shortly after the war began, he and US President Joe Biden ruled out no-fly zones because that would have led to a conflict between Russia and NATO. "Such nonsensical requests" as the deployment of ground troops were also rejected. "Everything has really been said about this, including me," emphasized Scholz.
USA does not generally exclude delivery
The discussion last year about a no-fly zone over Ukraine was about the fact that this could only be enforced if NATO provided its own fighter jets. Scholz and Biden rejected that. However, the current discussion is about making combat aircraft available to Ukraine, which would then be flown by Ukrainian pilots.
Ukraine is demanding fighter jets, and the United States has not fundamentally ruled out a delivery. The SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken did not fundamentally rule out the delivery of combat aircraft yesterday in the ARD.
Scholz said a few days ago in the Bundestag on the debate about further arms deliveries to Ukraine: "I made it clear very early on that it was not about combat aircraft and I'm doing that here too." When no-fly zones were discussed shortly after the beginning of the war, he and Biden said: "We will not do that. And nothing has changed in this attitude and nothing will change."
Heusgen: Scholz too hesitant in battle tank debate
Meanwhile, the head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, advocates the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia. In the ARD program "Europamagazin" Heusgen said yesterday: "I believe that the delivery of fighter jets is adequate to better protect Ukraine against Russian attacks."
Elsewhere, Heusgen accused the Chancellor of having upset the USA with his behavior in the battle tank debate. The US government would have expected Germany to take the lead with the Leopards - but the Chancellor did not accept it. "The chancellor certainly didn't make any friends in Washington," Heusgen told the "Rheinische Post" and the "General-Anzeiger". The federal government wants to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and also allow allies to do so. Critics denounce that this decision was made too hesitantly.
"The United States has delivered ten times as many arms to Ukraine as Germany. I don't know where we Europeans would be in supporting Ukraine without the Americans, or where the Russians would be now," Heusgen continued. Therefore, he can understand if the American side is upset about it.
Question about Germany's role in Europe
In terms of security policy, Europe must stand on its own two feet. "But Europe and Germany must do more for this, above all because the leading NATO power, the USA, is orienting itself more towards the Indo-Pacific region," said the head of the Munich Security Conference. In the foreseeable future, however, Europe will continue to be dependent on the USA as a protecting power.
Heusgen emphasized that Germany, as the economically strongest country in Europe, had to play a leading role - including militarily. "But that's exactly what we don't see right now. Leadership can't mean always being the last to do what's necessary - see battle tanks". Germany falls short of its possibilities and expectations.