Leopard 2 tanks in Poland. The government wants to deliver them to Ukraine. But since Germany is the manufacturing country, the delivery requires the approval of the German chancellor.
Myrtle MuellerForeign Correspondent News
The pressure is mounting. Germany to supply 2 Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (44) is not the only one who strongly demands this. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are appealing to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (64). Poland wants to send its Panther 2 to the Ukrainian east and has now officially asked the manufacturer Germany for approval. Britain has committed 14 of its own Challenger 2 main battle tanks to the Selensky and expects Germany to follow suit.
Even the traffic light coalition is buzzing. Politicians from the FDP and the Green Party want to support Ukraine with heavy weapons. The Green federal foreign minister pressed ahead. Annalena Baerbach (42) explained in an interview with a French television station on Sunday evening that she would not be an obstacle to deliveries from third countries. But the German chancellor is hesitant.
Why is Ukraine pressing for tank deliveries?
Fierce trench warfare has been going on for months in the east of the country, with heavy casualties on both sides. The Russians have reported small ground gains in the past few weeks and days. Additionally, Ukrainians fear a major Russian offensive next spring.
The Leopard 2 is superior to the Russian tank. Its 120-millimeter smoothbore cannon fires ballistic missiles. The main battle tank is very fast, with a maximum speed of 72 km/h. It has a 1500 HP engine, is very maneuverable for its size and can even drive on water. It also uses diesel fuel, which is abundant in Ukraine. Leopard 2 will be capable of breaking Russian fronts.
What speaks against using Leopard 2?
The battle tank weighs 62 tons. It is too heavy for many bridges, roads and railways in Ukraine, which are built for a maximum load of 40 tons. It is suitable for combat operations on dry ground. When it rains, the narrow paths quickly sink into the mud and there is a risk of getting stuck in a puddle.
Cheetah 2 has been modernized again and again over the past decades. Like armored personnel carriers and self-propelled howitzers, the main battle tank is a complex weapon system. It requires expertise and experience to navigate, maintain and network. The training lasts for several months. In addition, logistics, ammunition supplies and spare parts must be secured.
Why is Shoals afraid of tank supply?
So far, the German Chancellor has emphasized in every discussion about the delivery of heavy weapons: we cannot go it alone without alliance partners! Under no circumstances should Germany and NATO take part in the war. Providing main battle tanks will lead to further escalation of the war. That is what Chancellor Scholes fears. He repeatedly pointed to his country’s historical responsibility for starting two world wars.
Germany is linking the delivery of the Leopard 2 to the US commitment to make its Abrams main battle tanks available to Ukraine. Why this situation?
With the “America first” condition, Germany abdicates its responsibility and does not have to take a leadership role in the Ukraine conflict. But there are solid economic reasons as well. Cheetah 2 cost 15 million euros. It was one of the flagships of the German arms industry. “If the Leopard main battle tanks from Germany and third countries go to Ukraine, there will be a vacuum of armored vehicles in Europe. The Germans will soon not be able to supply new tanks, but the American Abrams will be available,” explains German arms and weapons expert Lars Winkelsdorff (46). The Americanization of the European market would have massive disadvantages for German arms companies such as Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei.
What weapons has Ukraine already received from Germany?
Germany is reluctant to supply Leopard tanks, besides being one of the biggest backers of the Ukrainian military with 3.3 billion euros. Therefore, from the beginning of the war, Ukraine received anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, machine guns, ammunition, vehicles and other military equipment. This was followed by Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles, 2000 self-propelled howitzers, Mars II multiple rocket launchers, Piper armored bridging vehicles and Buffalo armored recovery vehicles.
In early January, the federal government also pledged a Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery and 40 Mortar infantry fighting vehicles. According to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (62), seven Gebhardt-type anti-aircraft tanks will be added by February. Iris-de-SLM guided missiles and the full Iris-de-SLM air defense system will follow in the spring.
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