Status: 04/22/2022 12:35 p.m
Chancellor Scholz has opposed criticism of his handling of the war against Ukraine. His concern: an escalation, a third world war. But the Union wants to push through more arms deliveries by applying to the Bundestag.
Germany is acting too hesitantly. Germany is not doing enough. Chancellor Olaf Scholz finds himself increasingly confronted with this criticism the longer the war against Ukraine lasts. In an interview with “Spiegel” he defended his political course.
In this situation, you need “a cool head and well-considered decisions,” emphasized Scholz. Because Germany bears responsibility “for peace and security throughout Europe.”
No escalation with “highly armed superpower”
In the conversation, the chancellor reiterated a warning that he had been citing again and again for weeks – almost since the beginning of the war. Germany is part of NATO and there should never be a “direct military confrontation” between the military alliance and a “highly armed superpower like Russia”. It’s not about fear, “but about political responsibility”.
I am doing everything to prevent an escalation leading to a third world war. There must be no nuclear war.
Such an escalation threatens to trigger “immeasurable suffering across the continent, perhaps even across the world.”
According to Scholz, the Bundeswehr arsenal is exhausted
The concern that the war could spread is one of the central arguments with which the German government justifies its decision not to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine. In the past, Russian President Vladimir Putin had threatened that such a step would make a state a direct party to the war – and thus a direct threat to Russia.
But the voices in German politics that support the delivery of such heavy equipment are increasing – and with it the pressure on the chancellor. “There is no textbook for this situation,” said Scholz in the “Spiegel” interview. And: “You can only deliver what you have and can give.”
“The Bundeswehr’s options for supplying additional weapons from its arsenal have largely been exhausted,” he said. “Whatever can still be made available, we will definitely deliver.” But it must also be possible for the Ukrainian troops to use military equipment – “without lengthy training, without further logistics, without soldiers from our countries”. And that would be “the quickest way with weapons from former Soviet stocks”.
Ring exchange to bring tanks to Ukraine
That is why the federal government is now aiming for a so-called ring exchange with Slovenia. This is supposed to deliver tanks to Ukraine. And for this, Slovenia is to receive the Marder armored personnel carrier and the Fuchs wheeled armored vehicle from Germany as a replacement. In addition, Scholz announced last week that he would finance direct deliveries to the defense industry. The budget for military support for Ukraine should be increased from 225 million to two billion euros.
From the point of view of Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, Chairwoman of the Defense Committee of the Bundestag, the planned exchange of rings comes much too late. Your committee already had such an idea three weeks ago, said the FDP politician in common Morning magazine from ARD and ZDF.
However, she agrees with Scholz that the limits of the material that can be delivered to Ukraine from the Bundeswehr stocks have been reached. “The Bundeswehr is not bursting at the seams” when it comes to material. But there are still possibilities – for example, bridge-laying tanks could go to Ukraine that would not be used directly in combat. Or material for clearing mines.
Union wants to submit an application to the Bundestag
The exchange of rings is also not enough for Union faction leader Johann Wadephul: “It’s one excuse after the other. It’s too little and too late,” he warned Morning magazine from ARD and ZDF. The Union is convinced that there is “a clear parliamentary majority for the delivery of heavy weapons” to Ukraine. The majority, if not all, of the Greens and the FDP are in favor of it, and Wadephul emphasized that there are also important voices in favor of this in the SPD.
And that’s why the Union will submit an application for the delivery of heavy weapons to the Bundestag next week. The CDU and CSU had already announced this step last week.
Members of the Greens had also recently spoken out in favor of the delivery of heavy weapons – above all Anton Hofreiter. In the newspapers of the Funke media group, he again urged deliveries to be made “as quickly as possible”. This is all the more important “since the existing Soviet and old Russian material has already been shot up in large parts”.
Invitation to the Defense Committee
Strack-Zimmermann has also repeatedly spoken out in favor of the delivery of heavy weapons to the Ukraine. And she urges a more transparent approach to the topic and an “honest exchange”. And that’s why she has now invited Chancellor Scholz to speak in the debate before her defense committee.
“The drama of the war in Ukraine is increasing day by day,” says the letter that the FDP politician sent to Scholz. “The situation in the city of Mariupol and the endless suffering of the civilians trapped there are an impressive reminder of the brutality of the warfare by Russian President Vladimir Putin.” That is why “the question of what contribution Germany and especially the Bundeswehr can actually make in relation to arms deliveries is existential for the people in Ukraine”.
Klingbeil and Mützenich stand behind Scholz
But Scholz’s course also met with support. SPD party leader Lars Klingbeil confirmed his support in an interview with the dpa news agency:
That’s what I expect from good leadership: no quick shots, but rather thoughtful, decisive and consistent action and not changing opinions every day or relying on nice headlines.
SPD faction leader Rolf Mützenich made a similar statement on NDR Info. The broad majority would support the course taken by the federal government as a whole. “It’s not just about Chancellor Scholz alone, but also about the coalition parties. And here I see a broad consensus as far as the cabinet members are concerned,” said Mützenich.
Invitation from Scholz to the Defense Committee
Philipp Eckstein, ARD Berlin, April 22, 2022 9:33 a.m