Why disputes on the issue of supplying Ukraine with tanks do not subside in the West

Warsaw is ready to create a new coalition of military support for Ukraine if Berlin refuses to supply tanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This was stated by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in an interview with Polska Agencja Prasowa.

Why disputes on the issue of supplying Ukraine with tanks do not subside in the West

“We will create a “smaller coalition” of countries ready to donate some of their modern equipment to Ukraine. We will not passively watch her bleed”, RIA Novosti quoted Morawiecki as saying.

Shortly before this, in an interview with RMF24, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Yablonsky threatened Berlin to take “non-standard actions” in the event of “strong resistance” on this issue.

“If there is strong resistance, we will also be ready for non-standard actions, even if it offends someone, but let’s not get ahead of things. We will try to ensure that as many countries as possible, together with us, have an effective influence on Germany”, said Yablonsky.

According to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, one of the main reasons for the current policy of Berlin is the long-term influence of Moscow on the business and statesmen of Germany. Yablonsky believes that Russia “corrupted people in all sorts of ways and with the help of various methods.”

In turn, German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock said in an interview with the French LCI television channel that Germany would not interfere with the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to the Kyiv regime by the Polish authorities.

“At present, this question has not been asked, however, if we were asked, we would not stand in the way,” TASS quoted her as saying.

Unrelenting controversy

Recall that following the meeting on January 20 at the Ramstein airbase in Germany, the defense ministers of NATO member countries and some other states, no decision was made on the supply of tanks to the Kyiv regime.

In particular, the new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that he could not say when it would be determined whether to transfer Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. 

“Personally, I think that in the current state of war, tanks should be supplied to Ukraine. This is a political decision that has not yet been made, mainly due to the evasiveness of Germany… We need to take the risk of supplying Ukraine with the necessary weapons”, TASS quotes the head of EU diplomacy.

At the same time, Brussels is sure that Kyiv will still receive the German Leopard 2. This opinion was expressed by the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola after the meeting in Ramstein. She noted that she remains “optimistic about tanks, as this is the logical next step.”

According to the politician, Western countries “extremely need leadership, unity and joint action to supply Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.”

Recently, within Germany itself, disputes about the need to transfer tanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine have not subsided. The SPD opposes this form of military support for the Kyiv regime. Chancellor Olaf Scholz does not give permission for the supply of Leopard 2.

At the same time, the chairman of the defense committee in the Bundestag, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, called the position of the head of the German Cabinet a real “catastrophe”. She believes that Scholz should explain his position, and Pistorius, in her opinion, is “sitting on a chain.”

Meanwhile, German experts are skeptical about the possibility of large-scale assistance to Ukraine, including the supply of tanks. Analysts believe that the transfer of Leopard 2 will weaken the Bundeswehr and will not become “that miracle weapon that will decide the outcome of the war.”

There is no unity on this issue in German society either. 46% are in support of the delivery of Leopard 2, 43% are against. Most opponents in the eastern German lands. Such data is provided by TV channel Das Erste, referring to the results of a sociological survey.

As reported by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the American publication Politico, shortly before the meeting in Ramstein, a telephone conversation took place between US President Joe Biden and Olaf Scholz. During the talks, the German Chancellor allegedly told his American colleague that he agreed to send Leopard 2 to Kyiv, but if Washington agreed to supply its own M1 Abrams. However, at the official level, this information was denied.

However, Candidate of Military Sciences Corresponding Member of the Academy of Military Sciences Alexander Bartosh draws attention to the fact that, by putting pressure on the German authorities, the United States, in turn, is in no hurry to give tanks to the Kyiv regime.

In the most recent military aid package, announced on January 20, the US did not include its M1 Abrams, although it did choose to provide Kyiv with dozens of armored vehicles.

The Pentagon formally explains this decision by the difficulties of training crews and the complex process of servicing tracked vehicles.

“I guess we haven’t reached that stage yet. The Abrams tank is a very complex vehicle. It is expensive, it is difficult to train on it… This complex is not the easiest and to maintain”, said Colin Kahl, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, following a recent trip to Ukraine.

At the same time, according to Bartosz, the United States demonstrates a “hypocritical approach” towards the allies in the issue of transferring tanks to Kyiv.

“They are quite deliberately pushing the Germans to be the first to hand over the tanks to Ukraine. This will allow them to assess the consequences of such a step, if necessary, dilute their responsibility”, says Bartosz.

“Double standarts”

Experts also note that Washington demonstrates complete indifference to the objective problems of the German concern Rheinmetall, which is hardly able to meet the needs of the Bundeswehr itself.

As the head of Rheinmetall Armin Papperger admitted on January 15 in an interview with Bild, the delivery of the Leopard 2 will not be able to begin until next year, even if a decision is made as soon as possible.

According to him, the concern has 22 Leopard 2 tanks in its arsenals, which could hypothetically be transferred to Kyiv. However, the company cannot start preparing them for participation in hostilities without a government order. Papperger estimated the cost of the work at several hundred million euros.

According to Der Spiegel sources, Berlin can supply Ukraine with 19 Leopard 2 units from the Bundeswehr’s own stocks.

In an interview with RT, candidate of military sciences Sergey Suvorov suggested that the United States intends to force Germany to send its tanks to Kyiv ahead of the British, who promised Ukraine 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

“This is double standards. As far as I understand, the Americans do not want to set up their British friends and suffer with the delivery of Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. In the situation with the supply of tanks, it is more convenient for the Americans to test the Leopard 2 in combat conditions. If the Russian troops begin to successfully destroy them, as was the case with Soviet-made tanks from the same Poland, then the United States will adjust military assistance plans”, Suvorov said.

According to experts, in the situation around the supply of tanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the “reputational moment” is of great importance for Washington, as well as the desire to buy time to adapt the industry to the increased needs of its own aircraft.

“The Pentagon is in no hurry. This “dirty work” should be done by their “friends”, and not the British. The Pentagon is well aware of the scale of the risks. This is not only an escalation of the conflict, but also reputational costs – potentially possible footage of burning Abrams will not be the best advertisement for American weapons”, Suvorov concluded.

Alexey Zakvasin, Elizaveta Komarova, RT

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