In principle, a scheme is currently continuing that has been evident since Chancellor Scholz’s (SPD) speech at the end of February in the German Bundestag. Big announcements in delivery are followed by implementation problems. Being under a lot of pressure, Scholz succeeded on June 1 with the first presentation of all weapons deliveries and the announcement that he would also deliver the Iris-T air defense system, for example, initially calming down a bit, also in the ranks of his traffic light coalition.
But with Russia’s increasing gains in territory, the chancellor can’t get rid of the question of whether the support is sufficient. According to the current weapon list, only seven Panzerhaubitzen 2000 have been delivered from the heavy weapons so far, “including adaptation, training and spare parts”.
But the list of support is very long overall, up to 100,000 meters of detonating cord, 100,000 detonator caps, 2,700 Strela flying grenades and 21.8 million rounds of small arms ammunition. But in addition to the Iris-T system, the waiting list with weapons not yet delivered also includes “30 anti-aircraft tanks, including around 6,000 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition”.
In addition to the logistics, the problem is that training must first take place in Germany. However, it is foreseeable that Scholz will once again be on the defensive when it comes to weapons, including the supply of tanks. And also in your own coalition. Because the way out that Germany, like the western NATO partners, does not deliver battle tanks directly to the Ukraine, was the idea of the ring exchange.
According to Polish information, for example, Germany will not deliver around 20 Leopard 2 tanks to Poland until April 2023, although Poland has already delivered almost 300 T-72 tanks to Ukraine. So it’s no wonder that Eastern European countries like Poland are turning to the USA and are now buying Abrams tanks, emphasizes CDU security expert Roderich Kiesewetter.
That destroys trust, he says. It is very important to the federal government to fill in the gaps; But that cannot happen overnight, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) defends herself. Above all, the upgrading and modernization takes a relatively long time.
In the ring exchange procedure, allies of Ukraine are to provide easy-to-use Soviet-design tanks. In return, Germany promised the NATO partners modern equipment as a replacement. However, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda had repeatedly accused Berlin of not keeping promises. In addition to Poland, the federal government has also agreed ring exchange deals with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Greece.
The CDU politician Kiesewetter also emphasizes that he understands Scholz’s strategy less and less. In the Foreign Affairs Committee, Scholz described a direct delivery of Marder tanks to Ukraine as a “terrible escalation”, but at the same time said that if the USA delivered tanks directly, that would also be done.
Scholz emphasizes that other NATO partners are also not supplying Western main battle tanks, but according to the specialist portal “Esut.de”, Germany has now allowed Spain to hand over ten German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. If this report is confirmed, it will raise new questions for Scholz, above all why Germany does not let Ukraine have Leopard or Marder infantry fighting vehicles itself.
The FDP defense politician Marcus Faber, who left a defense committee meeting early to protest against Scholz’s unclear statements and therefore lost his post as defense policy spokesman for his parliamentary group, emphasizes that the US Himar rocket launchers would make a good contribution to neutralizing the Russian artillery Afford.
“Our Mars2 could do that too, if they were there,” he wrote on Twitter. So far, zero of the 41 in the Bundeswehr’s stocks have been delivered. Faber’s conclusion: “The turning point is better.”
Meanwhile, the Union is trying to continue to build up public pressure on the federal government to persuade them to deliver faster. It is “really scandalous” and “measured against what is necessary, far too little” that only seven self-propelled howitzers have been delivered since the joint Bundestag resolution three months ago, complains parliamentary group leader Johann Wadephul (CDU).
Instead of fulfilling its leading role in Europe, the federal government is wasting trust, the CDU politician warns: “The doubts that Germany stands when it comes down to a tough confrontation with Russia are growing, and that is poison for the EU and this is poison for NATO,” he says.
In view of the pressure from Vladimir Putin, Germany “appears to him like a shifting dune that is an obstacle, but moves”. In the event that the government does not act more quickly on the arms deliveries, the CDU politician threatens to file a motion for disapproval in the expected special session of the Bundestag.