BERLIN (AP) — Germany has become one of Ukraine’s main arms suppliers 11 months after Russia’s invasion, but Prime Minister Olaf Scholz has also earned a reputation for being reluctant to take new steps. , creating impatience among allies.
Berlin’s perceived limp is rooted more recently in Kyiv’s long-sought Leopard 2 tanks, and is at least partially rooted in the political culture of post-WWII military vigilance. war.
On Friday, Germany ordered a review of its Leopard inventory in preparation for a possible green light, edging closer to a decision to hand over the tanks.
But there was still no commitment. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius rejected suggestions that Germany was in the way, but said, “We need to balance all the pros and cons before deciding on such a thing.”
It’s a pattern that has repeated itself over the months, as Scholz initially held off promising new, heavier equipment, only to eventually agree to do so.
Most recently, Germany announced in early January that it would send 40 Marder armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.pledged 50 Bradley armored vehicles.
The decision followed months of requests to send Murder to Berlin, putting pressure on the Leopard tanks to step up further.
Thomas Klein Brockoff, a senior analyst at German Marshall, based in Berlin, said: “The actual size of the commitments and weapons deliveries (we are the second largest supplier in Europe) and the fact that it will take place. There is a conflict between the reluctance to A fund of American think tanks.
Mr. Scholz, a staunch and confident politician with a stubborn personality and little reluctance to yield to public calls to action, has been steadfast in his approach. He said Germany was not going to go it alone on weapons decisions and noted that NATO needed to avoid becoming a direct party to a war with Russia.
When pressure mounted last week, he vowed not to rush any major security decisions. By “excited comments”. And he argued that the German majority supports his government’s “cool, well-thought-out and prudent” decision-making.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Scholz pointed to some of the equipment Germany had sent to Ukraine, marking a “significant turning point in Germany’s foreign and security policy.” Declared there is.
That’s true, at least to some extent. Germany refused to provide deadly weapons before the invasion began. This reflects a political culture partly rooted in the historical memory of Germany’s own invasions of the 20th century, including the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
“No German Chancellor, no party wants to be seen head-on for pushing a military agenda. = Brockoff said. “It is therefore seen as a positive that the German Chancellor did not lead this, but was cautious, resisted and tried all other options when it comes to domestic consumption.”
Scholz faces calls from Germany’s center-right opposition and some of his three-party coalition to be more active in military aid. Not so from his own center-left Social Democratic Party, steeped for decades in the legacy of Cold War reconciliation pursued by his predecessor Willy Brandt in the early 1970s.
Scholz “decided early on that he didn’t want to lead militarily with Ukrainian support,” Klein Brockoff said, but “he wants to be a good ally, part of an alliance, and in the middle of the pack.” said.
However, Kleine-Brockhoff admitted that the cautious approach would “drive the allies crazy” and cast doubt on whether they could count on the Germans.
Berlin kept its eye on the Leopard tank even after Britain announced last week that it would provide Ukraine with its own Challenger 2 tank.
The hesitation is not just between Berlin and Kyiv. Germany’s permission is required for other countries to send their stocks of German-made leopards to Ukraine. On Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw would consider handing over the tanks. Even without permission from Berlin.
“Consent is of secondary importance here. We either get it right away or we do the right thing ourselves,” said Morawiecki.
British historian Timothy Gurton Ashe told The Guardian and other newspapers this week, “It is with honor that the German government’s position on military support for Ukraine has come a very long way since the eve of Russia’s aggression. I wrote.
But he said the tank issue was “a litmus test for Germany’s courage to resist (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s nuclear blackmail, to overcome the mixture of fear and doubt within Germany, and to defend a free and sovereign Ukraine. ‘ and Scholz argued that it should. He leads the “European Leopard Project”.
It remains to be seen if that will eventually materialize. The Scholz government has insisted on close cooperation with the United States, which may partly reflect the fact that Germany, unlike Britain and France, relies on the United States’ nuclear deterrent. .
On Friday, Scholz spokesman Steffen Hevestreith denied reports that Germany claimed it would only hand over Leopard tanks if the US sent its own Abrams tanks. He rejected the notion that Berlin was lagging behind other countries, insisting it was taking the right approach.
“These are not easy decisions and should be carefully considered,” he said. “And this is that they are sustainable and that everything goes with them and can stand by them. Part of leadership performance is maintaining alliances.”
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