Leopard 2 tanks: German indecision a ‘disappointment,’ Ukraine minister says
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk has expressed frustration in an interview with CNN over Germany’s indecision over whether to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Speaking to CNN’s Isa Soares on Friday, Melnyk called Germany’s lack of action a “disappointment,” after first praising the United Kingdom for moving forward with a pledge of Challenger 2 tanks, adding he hoped the move might prompt other countries to follow suit.
The UK is the “first nation to deliver Challenger 2 main battle tanks and that might be a trigger, hopefully, for other countries but unfortunately not for Germany yet,” said Melnyk, who went on to describe Germany’s inaction as a “huge disappointment for all Ukrainians.”
Germany has so far failed to reach an agreement with its key Western allies on sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, despite growing pressure from NATO and Kyiv to step up its military aid ahead of a potential Russian spring offensive.
The newly-appointed German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters on the sidelines of a high-stakes defense meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday that no decision has been made yet regarding sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
In his interview with Soares, Melnyk further expressed Ukraine’s disappointment with Germany’s announcement while holding out hope that Germany would weigh Ukraine’s concerns and could still decide to send the Leopard tanks.
“The government in Germany has not taken this important decision, not just to first allow other nations like Poland, Finland or Spain or Greece, which do have German battle tanks, to do the same, but also strengthen and create this, as we call it ‘Global Tanks Coalition’ to help Ukrainian forces to push out the Russians and to start the counteroffensive which will allow us to liberate the occupied territories,” Melnyk said.
“We are disappointed, but still the decision has not been taken yet so we hope that the government in Berlin will take seriously all of the concerns they heard (on Friday) in Ramstein,” Melnyk added.
“After 331 days of brutal war which Russia has been waging against Ukraine, they are still making an inventory of stocks, of (the) Bundeswehr (the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany) and in the industry, to check whether they have something to send to Ukraine! It is ridiculous,” Melnyk told CNN.
CNN reported Friday that German officials indicated they wouldn’t send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine or allow any other country with the German-made tanks in their inventory to do so unless the US also agreed to send its M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv.
While Germany has denied claims it is dragging its feet, Ukrainian diplomats are stressing the urgency of the situation.
“Time is of the essence” in getting Western tanks into Ukraine before Russia launches an anticipated spring offensive, Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday.
“We need these tanks now,” Markarova said.
The tanks are “very much needed now, so that our brave defenders can be protected. So we can maneuver, we can fire and actually we can go back on the counteroffensive and we can preempt the future attacks Russia is actually planning to expand during the spring,” Markarova said.