Berlin There is movement in the debate about the delivery of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine: Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on French television on Sunday that Germany would not block the export of Leopard tanks from third countries to Ukraine.
“At the moment the question has not yet been asked, but if we were asked, we would not stand in the way,” said the Green politician to the TV station LCI. She had been asked what would happen if Poland delivered Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, did not want to commit themselves to the Franco-German Council of Ministers as to whether Germany and France would supply battle tanks to Ukraine.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had previously announced that he would, if necessary, deliver leopards to Ukraine without Germany’s consent. He told the PAP news agency: “We will not stand by and watch Ukraine bleed dry. Ukraine and Europe will win this war – with or without Germany.”
If there is no early agreement with Germany, Poland will form a “smaller coalition” with other countries. These countries would then begin supplying some of their Leopard tanks to Ukraine without German approval.
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The federal government has not yet made a decision on the delivery of German battle tanks to Ukraine. Nor has it issued any delivery permits to other countries for the tanks produced in Germany.
Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Sunday evening on the ARD program “Anne Will” that the careful coordination process with the partners is ongoing. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil pointed out the support already provided for Ukraine.
Mützenich: “Criticism was immeasurable”
Other leading SPD representatives also backed the chancellor. Statements by coalition members in recent weeks about the chancellor have weakened the policies of the federal government, said SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich on Sunday evening in the ZDF “heute journal”. “I held back for a long time, but I found this criticism at the weekend, especially from a colleague who is after all the chair of the Defense Committee, excessive.”
FDP defense expert Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann publicly attacked Scholz sharply. She described the Chancellor’s communication on the tank issue as a “disaster”.
Mützenich then warned against a policy of gasping. He said on ZDF: “The Chancellor bears the responsibility and not those who tweet day in and day out and give any advice. I believe that the Federal Chancellor also carries out his duties very clearly, but also in a very balanced manner.”
However, Scholz and the SPD also received pressure from the other coalition partner, the Greens. “I believe that a decision that has been a long time coming needs to be accelerated,” Green Party leader Omid Nouripour told ARD.
>> Read also: “Pointless” and “disappointing” – frustration with Germany’s no to tanks
The deputy SPD parliamentary group leader, Dirk Wiese, defended Scholz. He told the Rheinische Post: “Within the traffic light coalition, we are working together constructively and in a coordinated manner under the leadership of Chancellor Olaf Scholz in this challenging situation. However, one should not overestimate individual deviations either.” Wiese added: “Rather, one should now keep one’s nerves and not make decisions on the basis of gut feeling.”
Opposition sees traffic lights in the separation process
The CDU chairman Friedrich Merz accused Scholz on the ARD that with his speech in Paris he missed an opportunity to make a concrete Franco-German proposal for the next few days on the tank deliveries to Ukraine. Scholz explains his position far too little, which is also met with a lot of incomprehension in France.
The first parliamentary secretary of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Thorsten Frei, sees the coalition breaking up. “The scenes that are currently taking place in the traffic light coalition are reminiscent of divorce proceedings,” Frei told the “Bild”.
The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen told the newspaper: “FDP and Greens must ask themselves whether they are prepared to take responsibility for this failure against their own convictions.” The alliance blockade by Scholz and the SPD means “that Germany in a historic test of the war in Europe failed at a crucial point”.
More: The current developments in the Ukraine war can be found in our news blog