Debate about main battle tanks: Scholz does not want to be pushed

As of: 01/13/2023 6:08 p.m

More and more politicians are calling for a speedy decision in the debate about battle tanks – but Chancellor Scholz is sticking to his course: he will not be driven by “excited statements”.

In the debate about main battle tanks for Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz emphasized that he did not want to be pressured into making a quick decision. He will not be driven by “excited statements, hasty statements and the need to say something every ten minutes,” he said. You can’t just shake serious decisions related to war and peace and the security of Germany and Europe out of your hand.

When it comes to further support for Kyiv, Germany will “always act in close coordination with our friends and allies,” said Scholz at a joint press conference with Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. With regard to the tank debate, he emphasized that the majority of citizens support the level-headed attitude of the federal government, which carefully prepares decisions, despite the “loud commentary world” in Berlin.

pressure is growing

After an initial push by Poland, Finland also indicated on Thursday that it was cautiously willing to hand over “Leopard 2” tanks to Ukraine. This is increasing the pressure on Scholz and the Ampel government to respond to Kiev’s months-long demands and requests for heavy weapons. Germany plays a key role in the debate because the “Leopard 2” tanks were developed in Germany. Therefore, their transfer to third parties would have to be approved by Germany. According to the Federal Government, however, it has not yet received a formal export request from Poland.

“I don’t see any red lines”

Politicians within the traffic light coalition are also pushing for a speedy decision. “I think it’s important that an agreement is reached as soon as possible on how the partners deal with the issue of battle tanks,” said SPD foreign policy expert Michael Roth on Deutschlandfunk. “At least he didn’t hear a no from the federal government. I don’t see any red lines when it comes to weapon systems.”

SPD faction vice Dirk Wiese said that BR, votes are currently being taken “within the federal government and within the allies”. A decision will be made “very soon,” assured Wiese.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl (SPD), was convinced that “Leopard” tanks could “decisively help” Ukraine. When it comes to supporting Kiev, it is right to “contribute everything we can,” she told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”.

urged by the FDP

The FDP defense expert Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann told the Funke media group that Germany “finally had to issue the export license” for the “Leopard”. She praised the Polish proposal to relocate the “Leopard 2” to Ukraine within “a very short time as part of a pan-European initiative”. The chancellor should “jump over his shadow in view of the drama in Ukraine,” she demanded.

Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann was also open to a delivery. “My personal opinion is clear and that is: It shouldn’t be taboo,” said the FDP politician to the “Augsburger Allgemeine”.

Mützenich: “He’s weighing it up”

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich remained more cautious. “Obviously in Germany we have the peculiarity of only referring to one device, namely the ‘Leopard’,” he said in Berlin. “That surprises me a little.” Mützenich argued that Germany’s delivery of weapons that had already taken place, which did not include main battle tanks, “had contributed to depriving the Russian offensive power of this offensive power.”

Criticism that the chancellor was acting too hesitantly in this matter was rejected by Mützenich. He “never perceives Scholz as hesitant”. The chancellor was “levelheaded, he weighs things up”.

Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) had said with regard to a delivery of the tanks by Poland that Berlin should not stand in the way when other countries make decisions to support Kiev – regardless of which decision Germany makes.

Also Chief of Security Conference for Delivery

The Union faction again spoke out in favor of the delivery of “Leopard” tanks to Ukraine. From his point of view, this is only a question of “when” anyway, said parliamentary group leader Johann Wadephul (CDU) to the broadcasters RTL and ntv. “Germany must take the lead in defending freedom in Ukraine,” he said.

The head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, also called for battle tanks for Kyiv. “We tried everything diplomatically,” he told the news magazine Focus. “Now we have to make Russia see, and the only language the Russian regime understands is toughness.”

Next week, Friday, the defense ministers of the western allies will meet at the Ramstein US air base in Rhineland-Palatinate to discuss further arms deliveries for Kyiv.

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