Berlin will not allow exports of German tanks to Ukraine unless the United States sends ownership of them

BERLIN – Germany will not allow the Allies to ship German-made tanks to Ukraine to aid in its defense against Russia It does not send its own systems unless the United States agrees to send American-made battle tanks, senior German officials said Wednesday.

NATO allies possess more than 2,000 German-made Leopard tanks, and they are among the most advanced in the world, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Many European governments have said so We are ready to send German-made tanks to Ukraine, including Poland, Finland and Denmark, if they receive approval from Berlin, although no formal application has been made. Britain said It will send 14 of its Challenger 2 main battle tankswhich is equivalent to the older cheetah.

“One cannot differentiate between direct exports (of German-made tanks) and exports by third countries,” a senior German official said Wednesday.

But the United States is “not quite there yet” when it comes to delivering Abrams tanks to Ukraine, Colin Kahl, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, No. 3 at the Pentagon, told reporters Wednesday.

“The Abrams tank is very complex, it’s expensive. It’s hard to train with. It has a turbojet engine… It’s not the easiest system to maintain,” said Dr. Cale. While he did not directly address Germany’s call for the United States to supply tanks to the United States, However, he said, the Pentagon does not want to give the Ukrainians equipment “they can’t fix, they can’t afford, and they can’t afford it in the long term”.

“This is not about the news cycle or what is of symbolic value. This is what will really help Ukraine,” said Dr. Cale.

But the United States still hopes that it will be able to persuade Germany to give the green light to the tanks. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Berlin Wednesday to meet his counterpart in Germany, Boris Pistorius, who was appointed to the post on Tuesday following the resignation of former Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.

American officials believe that the Leopard tanks could help Ukraine confront the moment it is facing now – a Russian offensive that is expected to start soon.

“That’s why we’re looking at modern mechanized armored capabilities, that’s why the focus is on tanks, and Germany is key to that capability because the immediate need, the most useful capability that’s accessible is the Panthers,” said one senior U.S. official. Defense official.

“We are very optimistic that we will make progress on this requirement by the end of the week,” the official said. It was not clear whether the American official was aware of the German position on American tanks.

An American-made Abrams tank is readied for military maneuvers in Gdynia, Poland, in December.


mateusz slodkowski/AFP/Getty Images

The export of large numbers of modern Western-made tanks—something the European allies of the United States and Ukraine have long resisted—would mark a marked escalation in Western support for Kiev. Berlin has long worried that such a move could draw the country inward direct confrontation with Russia.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday that Germany is “strategically intertwined” with friends and partners when it comes to making decisions on how to support Ukraine, including with tanks.

By deferring to Washington, Mr. Schulz is now adding pressure on President Biden to allow the export of Abrams tanks to Kyiv, the closest equivalent to the Leopard in the United States.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the war has entered a pivotal phase and that NATO allies need to provide more heavy weapons, especially tanks, to Ukraine.

Mr Stoltenberg said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he is looking for “more announcements of modern and heavier weapons”, following moves by the UK, France and Canada in recent days to provide additional armored vehicles. In order for Ukraine to prevail, he added, Kyiv will need more than has already been committed to.

He said, “This means more armored vehicles.” “This means battle tanks, as we’ve seen the UK and France have already announced.” It also means more advanced air defense systems, he said.

France recently said it would ship AMX-10 wheeled armored vehicles to Ukraine. The vehicle resembles a small tank on wheels and is referred to as a “tank killer” because it fires projectiles that can penetrate and destroy tank armor.

Ukraine’s main backers from the 50 countries, known as the Ukraine Defense Liaison Group, plan to meet at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday to agree a large new package of military aid to Kyiv.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is urging allies to provide more heavy weapons to Ukraine.


Fabrice Coverini/AFP/Getty Images

Diplomats from several NATO countries said that the issue of sending the Panthers — including Germany’s approval of third-country exports to Ukraine — would be one of the main topics of the meeting.

Several officials said Mr. Schultz’s government has not received any such requests, but when it does, it said it will respond quickly. Officials said the interagency approval process could take anything from a few days to a few weeks.

Germany, like many arms manufacturing nations, requires buyers to obtain its government approval before exporting its military equipment to a third country.

Some European diplomats had hoped Germany would signal at Friday’s meeting that it would allow allies to send German-made Leopard tanks into Ukraine. However, a senior European official said Germany was unlikely to make a decision on Friday and it was likely to take longer.

There are two main German main battle tanks: the Leopard 1, designed in the 1960s, and the improved model, the Leopard 2. Germany itself only has about 15 Leopard 2 tanks that it can ship to Ukraine on short notice.

Mr. Schulz’s government is divided on the issue: his coalition partners, the Greens and the Free Democrats, would prefer to send tanks into Ukraine, while many of the chancellor’s left-leaning Social Democrats – himself included – have long been reluctant, particularly as long as she refuses. The United States is sending its own Abrams tanks.

In April, Mr. Schulz suggested that sending any Western tanks into Ukraine would increase the risk of a nuclear war between NATO and Russia.

His concerns have since subsided, two aides said, also because of the presence of a wide global group of countries including allies of the president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Like Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has condemned threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

However, Mr. Schultz remains wary. Asked on Wednesday why he was reluctant to send Leopard tanks to Kyiv, Mr. Schulz told the World Economic Forum he was worried the conflict in Ukraine could turn into a global conflagration.

“The Ukrainians can count on our support in their brave fight, but it is also clear that we want to avoid this turning into a war between Russia and NATO,” Mr. Schulz said.

Write to Bojan Pancevski at [email protected]

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