French President Emmanuel Macron announced Wednesday that France would be the first country in the world to heed Kyiv’s repeated requests for Western-made armored tanks. His country will supply its lightweight armoured combat vehicle the AMX-10 RC.
The next day, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in a joint statement that Germany would supply Ukraine with its Marder infantry combat vehicles and a Patriot air defense missile battery. Berlin announced Friday that it would send 40 Marders to Ukraine before the end of March.
The flurry made it clear that France and Germany were not willing to share an approach to arming Ukraine.
Scholz was the target of domestic heckling, even from coalition partners, for taking his time in deciding to send tanks into Ukraine. “Other partners countries are once more leading the way. We can now get started in the spirit Franco-German friendship. @Chancellor?” Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann is the head of Germany’s parliamentary defense committee and a member Scholz’s junior coalition partner Free Democrats. “The ball is now [in] Berlin’s court.”
The Green Party, the Social Democratic Party’s other coalition partner is mostly in favor of arming the Ukrainians with heavier and more powerful arms. Many young Germans are also supportive. Some lawmakers even asked Scholz to supply Ukraine with the main battle tank of Germany, the Leopard 2.
Two Finnish politicians launched this week a ” Free the Leopards!” campaign to “pressure” Germany to provide tanks for Ukraine.
Franke stated, “Germany doesn’t seem decisive once again, but rather like someone who follows – or even if it is being driven by others.”
Jessica Berlin, geopolitical analyst, said that it doesn’t seem like Macron warned Scholz.
“The Chancellery was apparently not notified about the announcement in advance.” It was a surprise.”
Although Germany has provided significant military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, including Gepard antiaircraft guns, the first of four IRIS–T surface-to air missile systems, and IRIS-T surface to air missile systems, Scholz and his SPD have come under increasing fire from NATO for refusing to supply Ukraine with the badly needed Western tanks, despite having a stockpile that exceeds 200.
“Germany claims it wants to lead European security but has refused for months to send any industry stock that is not in active Bundeswehr service or to approve export licenses for countries who wish to send Leopards to Ukraine. The equipment that could have saved lives and increased Ukraine’s battlefield gains during counteroffensive is now sitting in storage. Berlin, whose work took her to Ukraine many times over the past year, said that it was unconscionable.
Berlin suggested that Macron’s first announcement may have been made to force the hand of the chancellor.
Scholz has not been overlooked by Macron. He took away Scholz’s primary reason for not sending tanks, that Germany shouldn’t “go it alone.” Scholz had to quickly declare that Germany was also moving forward with Marder delivery or be accused of inaction. Although he didn’t want Germany to “go alone”, it would have been interpreted as refusing to follow along. This is a terrible look.
Berlin stated that Germany was unlikely to interpret Scholz’s move as a diplomatic betrayal even though it was temporarily embarrassing.
Berlin stated that Germany had every opportunity to be the first to deliver tank tanks and was hailed as a leader. “But the Scholz chancellery rejected. France is not to blame for the inaction of Germany.
Berlin pointed out that the SPD’s reluctance in providing tanks to Ukraine must be considered in context of its history with close Russian ties and proRussian policies dating back to the 1920s.
She said that the SPD had “tolerated for decades Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s international crimes, domestic oppression, and expansionist behavior”. She said that they not only contributed to Putin’s violent dictatorship but also made German industry dependent upon it.
“Fortunately, Russia has recognized this mistake since its full-scale invasion and they have taken great steps with their coalition partners to break this dependency. This was despite many years of warnings and pressure.
Berlin stated that Scholz’s refusal to go it alone was also a key factor in stopping the supply of Marders. This argument was valid until France decided that it had enough stockpiles to supply Ukraine by itself this week.
Berlin stated that Germany’s decision now to follow its lead actually offers it an immense opportunity.
Germany has a huge opportunity to change its narrative and save face. We could be seen by our allies in 2022 as an obstructionist partner, but we could also become a proactive partner by sending MBTs (battle tank) in 2023. Germany’s reputation among defense partners will be increasingly damaged if Scholz doesn’t recognize this and continues his 2022 strategy deflecting and delaying.
Berlin stated that international pressure worked, despite France’s unilateral declaration to move things forward. It’s actually the only thing that has worked thus far. The Scholz chancellery is not afraid to ignore their coalition partners and public opinion. They must answer Washington and Paris’s knocks when Washington and Paris knock.”