It has taken him weeks to get to this point but German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has finally reversed course on sending heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Under pressure both at home and abroad for his dithering over Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reversed course and finally agreed to supply heavy arms to aid in the country’s defense against Russia.
The agreement to deliver antiaircraft tanks to Kyiv was announced on Tuesday in conjunction with a summit meeting among Western nations held at the U.S. Air Force Base in Ramstein, Germany. On the agenda were discussions about how best to prevent a Russian victory in the eastern Donbas region, where combat tactics are different due to the wide-open terrain…
Until now, the government has only let itself be dragged into a swap deal that would see old Soviet T-72 tanks still owned by Slovenia head to Ukraine, with Ljubljana in return getting modern German mechanized infantry vehicles like the Fuchs and Marder in exchange.
That deal was seen as a way for Berlin to keep its hands clean of direct heavy arms shipments to Ukraine. In addition to sundry other objections Scholz has raised in recent weeks, the chancellor has repeatedly voiced fears his country could be inadvertently dragged into a war with Russia.
Scholz has been under internal pressure from members of the Green Party who are part of his ruling coalition. Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock have both pushed him to sends as many as 100 Marder armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.
Scholz said no to that was arguing that German shipments of arms were comparable to what other nations were proving. But by last week that position had become increasingly untenable.
“Take a look around at what others are doing who are closely allied with us,” he said. “All of our deliveries fit into what our closest allies and friends have set in motion on their side.”
However, that justification sounds increasingly hollow, as not has only the United States started to deliver heavier weapons like howitzers, helicopters and M113 armored troop transporters, but European partners are also weighing in with such matériel.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced Tuesday that the Netherlands “will be sending heavier matériel to Ukraine, including armored vehicles.”
“Along with allies, we are looking into supplying additional heavy materiel,” he added.
Belgium is reportedly considering supplying Kyiv with M109 howitzers. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have already sent Soviet-era tanks or air defense batteries to Ukraine.
When the war in Ukraine started he promised a “Zeitenwende” meaning a historical turning point. What has actually happened has been Scholz dragging his feet at every turn while the rest of the world does its best to bring them along. But I guess better late than never.
On the positive side, these German Gepard anti-aircraft tanks look like potential game changers. The specs are available here and I found this video of the thing in action.