Germany Under Pressure to Send Tanks to Ukraine: Since Russia launched its unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine nearly eleven months ago, Kyiv has been pleading to the West for the military hardware to counter the Kremlin’s forces.
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It has received a steady supply of man-portable anti-tank weapons, air defense systems, and even main battle tanks (MBTs), including a significant number of Soviet-era T-72s. The military aid from NATO nations and other partners has played a crucial role in Ukraine’s war effort – allowing its military to not only stop the Russians but has seen Ukraine drive back the invader on nearly every front.
However, Kyiv has continued to pressure the West for additional tanks and armored vehicles.
The Ukrainians could soon receive a number of Western armored vehicles, including M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the United States, AMX-10 RC wheeled tank destroyers from France, and even Challenger 2 MBTs from the UK.
Germany has also pledged to send Marder infantry fighting vehicles but hasn’t committed to sending any Leopard 2 MBTs – considered among the very best in the world – to aid Kyiv.
Germany’s New Minister
Even as other nations, notably Poland and Spain, have expressed interest in sending their respective Leopard 2s, it would still require signoff from Berlin – which is now under intense pressure to lift any objections.
On Tuesday, Boris Pistorius was named Germany’s defense minister, to replace Christine Lambrecht, who resigned after comments critics called insensitive.
This could also signal a change of course for Berlin and see the final barrier over the deployment of the Leopard 2 to Kyiv lifted.
As importantly, it could further suggest that Germany will take defense spending and the threat from Russia more seriously.
“Lambrecht’s resignation comes after mounting criticism over perceived blunders in communicating issues surrounding the Ukraine war, and a failure to kickstart serious reforms in Germany’s defense policy and procurement despite a €100 billion uplift in February 2022,” explained James Marques, associate aerospace, defense and security analyst at international analytics firm GlobalData.
“Boris Pistorius has been hailed as an experienced administrator but some observers may lament the lack of defense-related experience across Germany’s coalition government in trying times,” Marques said via an email to 19FortyFive.
Hit the Ground Running for Ukraine
The new defense minister will have no “grace period” to get acclimated to his new role.
Instead of settling into the job, he’ll have to hit the ground running, as Germany is under increased pressure to upgrade its dilapidated military and to aid Ukraine.
“Pistorius takes over at an inflection point in western aid for Ukraine. Germany has held out over authorizing the transfer of numerous Leopard 2 main battle tanks, but pressure is growing after the UK’s decision to send a token force of Challenger 2s and mounting impatience amongst NATO allies,” said Marques.
“There is a sense of opportunity to launch another offensive against Russian positions in East Ukraine, but there is a time pressure as the Kremlin likely seeks to regain initiative in the near future. Germany’s power to authorize Leopard 2 donations makes it key to determining whether Ukraine has the materiel it needs to weather 2023.”
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.