Poland has Leopard 2 tanks. The government wants to make them available to Ukraine. But since Germany is the country of manufacture, the delivery requires approval from the German Chancellor.
Myrtle MuellerOutside Reporter News
The pressure is growing. Germany is to deliver Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. Not only the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (44) demands this with vehemence. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania appeal to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (64). Poland even wants to send its Leopard 2 to the Ukrainian eastern front, and has now officially asked the manufacturing country Germany for approval. Britain pledges 14 of its own Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Selenski and expects Germany to follow suit.
Even in the traffic light coalition there are rumblings. Politicians from the FDP and the Greens want to support Ukraine with heavy weapons. The Green Federal Foreign Minister pressed ahead. She would not stand in the way of a delivery from third countries, explained Annalena Baerbock (42) in an interview with a French TV station on Sunday evening. But the German chancellor hesitates.
Why is Ukraine pushing for tank delivery?
A grueling trench warfare has been going on in the east of the country for months, with high casualties on both sides. The Russians have reported slight land gains in the past few weeks and days. In addition, the Ukrainians fear a major Russian offensive next spring.
The Leopard 2 is superior to the Russian tank. Its 120 millimeter smoothbore cannon fires kinetic missiles. The main battle tank is very fast with a maximum speed of 72 km/h. It has a 1500 hp engine, is extremely manoeuvrable for its size and can even drive through water. It also uses diesel fuel, a fuel that Ukraine has in abundance. The Leopard 2 would be very capable of breaking through the Russian fronts.
What speaks against using the Leopard 2?
The main battle tank weighs up to 62 tons. It is too heavy for many bridges, roads and railways in Ukraine, which are built for maximum loads of 40 tons. It is suitable for combat operations on dry ground. When it rains, the narrow tracks quickly sink into the mud and the tank threatens to get stuck.
The Leopard 2 has been repeatedly modernized over the past decades. Like armored personnel carriers and self-propelled howitzers, the main battle tank is also a complex weapon system. It takes expertise and experience to steer it, maintain it and use it in a network. The training lasts several months. In addition, the logistics must be secured for ammunition supplies and spare parts.
Why is Scholz afraid of the tank delivery?
So far, the German chancellor has emphasized in every discussion about the delivery of heavy weapons: no going it alone without the alliance partners! Under no circumstances should Germany and NATO become parties to the war. The supply of main battle tanks would lead to a further escalation of the war. And that’s exactly what Chancellor Scholz is afraid of. Again and again he pointed out the historical responsibility of his country, which started two world wars.
Germany ties the delivery of the Leopard 2 to the United States’ commitment to make its Abrams main battle tanks available to Ukraine. Why this condition?
With the “America First” condition, Germany shirks its responsibility and does not have to assume a leadership role in the Ukraine conflict. But there are also tangible economic reasons. The Leopard 2 costs 15 million euros. It is one of the flagships of the German armaments industry. “If Leopard main battle tanks from Germany and third countries go to Ukraine, then there will be a vacuum of armored vehicles in Europe. The Germans cannot quickly offer new tanks, but the American Abrams would be available, »explains the German weapons and armaments expert Lars Winkelsdorf (46). An Americanization of the European market would bring massive disadvantages to German armaments companies such as Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei.
What weapons has Ukraine already received from Germany?
Germany is hesitating with the delivery of Leopard tanks, apart from that the country is one of the biggest supporters of the Ukrainian army with 3.3 billion euros. Thus, from the very beginning of the war, Ukraine received anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, machine guns, ammunition, vehicles and other military goods. This was followed later by Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles, 2000 self-propelled howitzers, Mars II multiple rocket launchers, Biber armored bridge-laying vehicles and Buffalo armored recovery vehicles.
In early January, the federal government also promised a Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery and 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles. According to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (62), seven anti-aircraft tanks of the Gepard type are to be added by February. Iris-T-SLM guided missiles and an entire Iris-T-SLM air defense system will follow by spring.