There is a war in Europe again. And once again, Europe struggles to agree on a common strategy – this time in the dispute over the supply of heavy battle tanks to Ukraine.
The Christian Democratic Union faction in the German Bundestag insists on supplying Ukraine with Leopard 2 main battle tanks.
The threat of further military escalation from Moscow
CDU leader Merz warned against perceiving Russia as an enemy. He called the Russian war in Ukraine confrontation between two European countries “which threatens military escalation.” At the same time, he stressed that the source of this conflict is Russia.
Therefore, the CDU and the CSU are united in the fact that nothing can be ruled out as Moscow’s reaction to tank supply to Ukraine, Merz said. “We demand the same clear words from the German government,” Merz added, “Germany, as the largest EU state, should launch an initiative to solve this problem at the level of the entire European Union.”
German opposition demands from the government a clear position on Ukraine
Heads of the opposition Christian Democratic and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), Friedrich Merz and Markus Söder demand from the German government a clear position on Ukraine.
“We respect and want territorial integrity and stand for international law. We are loyal to alliances, but we are also for peace,” the CSU leader emphasized.
Different views in Germany on Russia’s war
Commenting on the announced intention of the German Chancellor to visit Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Söder criticized the lack of information about the reason and purpose of this visit.
In his opinion, members of the government coalition in the Bundestag do not have a unified position in the Russian war in Ukraine. According to Söder, “the Social Democrats repeat the theses of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the Greens are hesitant to supply Ukraine with weapons, and the Free Democrats are far progressing on this issue.”
The day before, Olaf Scholz said he would soon go to Moscow for talks with Vladimir Putin on the war in Ukraine. Scholz said this meeting is already “planned and will take place soon,” but he did not name the exact date.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s hesitant position
European partners are becoming increasingly impatient with Germany over its unwillingness to allow them to send Germany’s Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine.
Almost every day, leading European politicians publicly call on Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to participate in an alliance of states that want to jointly provide Ukraine with more Leopard 2s and grant export permits.
On the edge of making a mistake on the tank question
It seems that the forces on the old continent have learned nothing in the three decades since the deadly war in Yugoslavia. And forget all the sacred swears to act in a better way next time.
Whether it was in the Balkans then or now in Ukraine: without US help and its leadership, Europeans would not have been able to end a regional war on their continent.
This is primarily thanks to Germany. EU partners expect leadership. The federal government says it wants to be the leading power.
Olaf Scholz would like to make Germany the main guarantor of European security. This requires a new strategic culture, he says. Scholz’s arguments against the approval of Leopard are becoming more and more fragile every day.
No NATO agreement would prevent it. Yet the SPD now appears as a force that deepens dependence on the US instead of strengthening Europe’s ability to act.
Nations ready to stand for peace in Europe
Lithuania and Spain have declared their readiness to supply Ukraine with heavy battle tanks. On Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke in favor of the delivery of Leopard 2.
After meeting with the heads of state of Ukraine and Lithuania, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Gitanas Nauseda, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that several EU states want to transfer Leopard 2 to Ukraine jointly and that Poland will provide the necessary number. According to military experts, it is about 14 tanks.
Also, Sweden, which currently holds the presidency of the EU Council, has approved the supply of tanks. “There are no fundamental restrictions on the tanks,” Defense Minister Paul Johnson said, directly denying the federal government’s claim that NATO had an agreement not to supply Western-style heavy tanks.
The UK has announced it will provide Ukraine with Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer said that the European Parliament would ask Chancellor Scholz to create a European consortium of countries that own Leopard tanks and want to supply them to Ukraine.
These international statements put Scholz in trouble. The Chancellor justified Germany’s reluctance with the argument “not to go it alone” and pointed out that other countries are not supplying battle tanks either.
Pressure on Scholz mounts on tanks question
But now Germany risks being a lone obstacle. The allies want to give Ukraine the Leopard 2 tanks, but Berlin refuses to give up its export license. It is unavoidable, as Leopard tanks originate from German armaments.
Germany, which is not in a hurry in its decisions, is already worrying Europe and its citizens because Russia does not stop its war, continues to strengthen its power and expand its influence in Europe through agents and spies. Europeans, and particularly Germans, want Russia’s war to end, before it can escalate into the European Union.