Germany dashed its allies’ hopes that it could approve the dispatch of battle tanks to Ukraine on Friday when a high-profile defence ministers assembly failed to achieve an settlement.
Many western nations argue that the German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks would drastically assist Kyiv mount a counteroffensive towards Russia, however Berlin has but to agree, regardless of weeks of intense stress from its allies.
“[The Germans] haven’t decided on the supply of Leopard tanks,” US defence secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned after the assembly in Ramstein, western Germany.
Germany’s approval is critical not just for sending its personal Leopards, but additionally for the switch of these held by 12 different European nations.
Ukraine says it wants extra heavy armour to assist it retake territory earlier than Russia, which has mounted an enormous mobilisation marketing campaign, can refit and regroup.
Boris Pistorius, Germany’s new defence minister, mentioned his ministry would test the military’s inventories of Leopards to see what number of might be offered to Kyiv, because it continues to deliberate whether or not to launch them to Ukraine.
He mentioned the evaluation would attempt to set up whether or not the Bundeswehr’s Leopards are appropriate with the techniques that Germany’s companions use and what number of of them can be found.
“It’s not prejudging the choice — it’s merely getting ready for the day which may effectively come,” Pistorius added. “Then we’d be capable to act instantly and supply the help inside a really brief time.”
Olaf Scholz, chancellor, has insisted Germany is not going to go it alone on the tank difficulty, indicating he’ll solely act in live performance with the US. However Biden administration officers argue the Leopards, that are lighter and simpler to keep up than the US-made Abrams tank, are higher suited to the warfare in Ukraine.
“American partnership and a brand new defence minister offered the right cowl for Scholz to maneuver on this,” mentioned one western diplomat in Berlin. “However he dodged it, infuriating half his companions.”
The US argues that supplying Ukraine is a matter of urgency. “We’ve a window of alternative right here between now and the spring, each time they begin their operation, their counteroffensive, and that’s not a very long time,” Austin mentioned.
However the US secretary of defence defended Germany as a longstanding “dependable ally”, including that the talk on arming Ukraine was about extra than simply tanks. “This isn’t actually about one single platform,” he mentioned.
Pistorius additionally hit again at claims that Berlin was the only real block on sending tanks to Ukraine. “The impression that often arises that there’s a united coalition and Germany is standing in the best way is flawed,” he mentioned, including that there have been “many allies” who shared Germany’s view of the tanks difficulty.
Some German MPs had been baffled by Pistorius’ assertion. “It’s alarming that it took a brand new defence minister to test what number of Leopard tanks we now have, solely now, 11 months after Russia attacked Ukraine,” mentioned Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the German parliament’s defence committee.
Further reporting by Sarah Provan in London, Raphael Minder in Warsaw and Laura Pitel in Berlin