Riga On Wednesday afternoon, the federal government finally gave its green light for the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The reactions to this give an idea of what further discussions are likely to follow shortly.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was grateful for the announced supplies of tanks from the West. At the same time he warned: “It’s not about five or ten or 15 tanks. The need is greater,” said Tuesday evening in his daily video address – media had previously reported on the upcoming Leopard 2 release. Ukraine tries every day to compensate for the lack of heavy battle tanks. “And I thank each and every one of you who support us in this.”
His office manager Andriy Yermak, on the other hand, was more enthusiastic, and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was already hinting at the next big discussion – namely, Ukraine’s desire for modern Western-made fighter jets.
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine and former Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, also demanded that Germany supply Tornado and Eurofighter fighter jets, warships and submarines to his country. With a view to the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks, Melnyk told TV broadcaster RTL: “That should only be the first step.”
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On Wednesday afternoon, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit confirmed in Berlin that Germany would deliver 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine. In addition, the federal government authorized other states to supply their own Leopard tanks.
Leopard 2: Ukraine hopes for new offensive with main battle tanks
For months Ukraine has been demanding western-style main battle tanks to fight the Russian attackers. The first official request to the federal government was made just a week after the start of the war at the beginning of March last year, and the discussion about the supply of battle tanks has picked up speed, especially in the past few weeks.
>> Read here: Chancellor Scholz made it credible difficult – a comment
The front line in eastern Ukraine has barely moved in weeks. With the battle tanks, Ukraine hopes to get back on the offensive and recapture more territory. At the same time, an offensive by Russia is feared for the spring.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is also pleased with Germany’s decision. “Thank you, Chancellor Olaf Scholz,” writes Morawiecki on Twitter. The delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine is a big step towards stopping Russia.
As expected, the reactions from Russia were critical. All US M1 Abrams main battle tanks and German Leopard tanks delivered to Ukraine would “burn up just like everyone else,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call, Russia’s Tass news service reported.
The Russian embassy in Berlin has sharply criticized the German announcement to deliver main battle tanks to Ukraine. “Berlin’s decision to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv is extremely dangerous because it takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation,” Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said on Wednesday, according to a press release. The decision contradicts the announcements by German politicians that they do not want to be drawn into the conflict.
>> Read here: The US is moving in the tank dispute – but the deliveries could take months
Germany and its western partners are not interested in a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Rather, it relies on escalation, criticized Netchayev. “Berlin’s decision means a definitive turning away from the Federal Republic of Germany’s admission of historical responsibility towards our people for the terrible crimes of Nazism in the Great Patriotic War that are not subject to a statute of limitations,” said the ambassador. According to Nechayev, German tanks would again be sent to the “Eastern Front”, which meant the deaths not only of Russian soldiers but also of the civilian population.
The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, also criticized the decision. A delivery of main battle tanks from the USA to Ukraine represents “another blatant provocation”. “If the United States decides to deliver tanks, then you definitely cannot justify such a step with the argument of ‘defense weapons’,” says in a statement on Telegram. It is obvious that the government in Washington is working towards a strategic defeat of Russia.
Hackers call for a cyber attack against Germany
Criticism of Germany’s decision is also evident on unofficial Russian channels, for example from the pro-Russian hacker group Killnet. Shortly after the first media reports about a decision on the tank issue, the group published a message on its Telegram channel on Tuesday about the planned Leopard deliveries, with the note: “The apocalypse is drawing ever closer.”
The group calls for a “comprehensive cyber attack on Germany” in which other hacker groups should participate. The campaign has the hashtag #DeutschlandRIP.
On Wednesday, the group then published lists of potential attack targets, including the websites of government agencies and ministries such as the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Finance and Bafin, but also Deutsche Bank and the Bundesbank, the police, the airports in the country and the Society for International Cooperation.
With agency material
More: Pro-Russian hackers threaten retaliation for Leopard decision