The chancellor’s hesitation plays into Putin’s hands

Chancellor Olaf Scholz in front of a Leopard 2 main battle tank

The federal government is wasting time that Ukraine does not have.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Berlin Angela Merkel has described many of her political decisions as “there is no alternative” – ​​especially when things got serious. The situation in Ukraine is very serious, as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made clear once again in Ramstein on Friday: Russia is regrouping its troops, drawing in more soldiers and procuring new weapons. The Ukrainian President, who appeared increasingly tired and resigned, also warned the allies to hurry.

If Chancellor Olaf Scholz wanted to use the words of his predecessor, he would have to say that there was “no alternative” to the rapid delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. Instead, he had his new Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, say that there was no uniform line among the Allies on the issue of main battle tanks and that the federal government had not yet decided on a delivery.

>> Read here: Defense Minister Pistorius – No unified opinion on the battle tank question

Again, Germany is the brakeman who doesn’t even dare to allow other countries to pass on German-made Leopard tanks. Instead of leading a coalition of the willing and showing the Americans that Europe is resolute in defending its freedom, Scholz remains true to his role as a procrastinator.

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There may be good reasons against supplying western main battle tanks, as Pistorius said in Ramstein. Perhaps the secret services know that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has drawn the red line here and that the war is actually threatening to escalate. Even if, in view of the almost daily terrorist attacks on the Ukrainian civilian population, it is difficult to imagine what this would look like.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Ramstein

“This is not the moment to sit back.”

(Photo: dpa)

But there is a good reason for the delivery: without Western-made main battle tanks, Ukraine is unable to retake occupied territory. And she will lose the war. Because their tanks, which date back to Soviet times, have served well so far. But in view of the intensity of the fighting and the difficult supply of spare parts, this cannot be relied on in the long term.

>> Read here: German industry offers more than 100 main battle tanks for Ukraine

If the Western allies don’t want to abandon Ukraine just under a year after the start of the war, they won’t be able to shirk the battle tank decision much longer. Germany now wants to be prepared for this “just in case”.

But the fact that the Ministry of Defense has only now received the order to test how many Leopard tanks the Bundeswehr and industry can actually get rid of is an indictment of failure and not a sign of forward-looking politics. Retired vehicles will take months to repair even if the order were placed today.

If the decision to supply main battle tanks is made in the near future, Berlin will be just as surprised as it was with the Marder tanks. Despite allegedly lengthy coordination with the Americans and French, it was not clear when the delivery was announced where Germany intends to find the promised armored personnel carriers. This drama threatens to repeat itself.

There is no alternative to the delivery of western main battle tanks. Chancellor Scholz knows that too. But the federal government recklessly gambles away time and thus only helps the aggressor. As the Ukrainian President said: “Time is Putin’s strongest weapon.”

More: Why does Ukraine want the German Leopard 2? The most important answers

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