Germany approves tank sales to Ukraine and bows to pressure – POLITICO

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BERLIN — The German government on Tuesday announced it would supply anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine after facing intense pressure at home and abroad to end its reluctance to supply heavy weapons to Kyiv.

The decision thatcheetahDefense Minister Christine Lambrecht discovered tanks that come from stocks of the German armaments industry on Monday at a closed government session told reporters at a Ukrainian security conference at a US air force base in Ramstein, Germany. There was no immediate information on how many tanks Germany would supply.

The announcement marks a notable change for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who as recently as last week ruled out sending German tanks to Ukraine and insisted that it would make more sense for eastern NATO allies to give Kyiv old Soviet-era tanks that the Ukrainian are already known military. Scholz promised that Germany would then send German replacement tanks to these countries.

He also cited the threat of nuclear war as a reason for his reluctance to ship German tanks directly to the war zone.

In the past few days, Scholz had come under increasing pressure to change course, both from international allies and from his governing coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP. The Greens have been pushing for weeks to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, and the FDP also spoke out in favor of sending such weapons at a party conference over the weekend.

To exert further pressure, the largest opposition party, the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is planning a bill parliamentary motion calls on Germany this week to supply Ukraine with tanks. The move could have garnered the support of Greens and FDP MPs and could have resulted in a critical defeat for Scholz in parliament and undermined confidence in his government.

In addition, allies such as the US, France and the Netherlands have already pledged heavier weapons to Ukraine, putting Germany at risk of becoming increasingly isolated with its resistance.

Lambrecht, who is from the Scholz SPD, acknowledged in Ramstein “that there has also been criticism of Germany in recent weeks in this regard”, but argued that “the figures” of total German arms sales to Ukraine, including Anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles “speak a different language”.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters at the same press conference that Western allies “can do more to help Ukraine defend itself,” praising Kiev’s continued resistance.

The Gepard, a tank armed with two 35mm anti-aircraft guns that can be upgraded with “Stinger” anti-aircraft missiles, was retired from the Bundeswehr more than 10 years ago. However, many of these tanks are still with the German armaments company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, which has expressed an interest in processing the vehicles and selling them to Ukraine.

A spokesman for Germany’s Economy Ministry, which is responsible for approving arms exports, had no immediate answer as to whether approving Chepard industrial stock sales meant the government would also approve other industrial requests to sell German tanks to Ukraine.

According to the German daily newspaper whealThe German armaments group Rheinmetall has applied for approval to export 88 Leopard 1A5 heavy battle tanks and 100 Marder light tanks to Ukraine, while Krauss-Maffei Wegmann also wants to supply 100 Panzerhaubitze 2000 artillery units.

A government spokesman told reporters Monday that a decision on such export applications would be made “in a timely manner.” Germany approves tank sales to Ukraine and bows to pressure - POLITICO

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