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Germans Say There’s No Unity on Leopard Tanks for Ukraine

Jan. 21, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Whatever else did happen at the Jan. 20 meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base chaired by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, it finished without Germany giving permission for other countries to send their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal worried that Austin’s failure “to persuade Berlin” to grant that permission exposed “the first significant rift within an alliance that has held steady since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago.”

Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told German television that German and U.S. tanks don’t need to be provided at the same time and indicated that his government was still weighing what to do, according to the Journal’s account. Pistorius is reported to have said that he had commissioned a survey of all Leopard tanks owned by the German government and private sector, and asked all allies who had purchased the model to do the same in their countries. He added, however, that allies should start training Ukrainian troops in the use of Leopard tanks, in case a decision is made in the coming days.

Pistorius insisted that Germany is not alone in holding out on the tanks supply decision: “I must say there is very clearly no unanimous opinion. The impression that has occasionally been made that there is a closed coalition and Germany stands in the way of this is wrong. There are many allies who say we share the opinion that I explained here today again, there are good reasons for the delivery and there are good reasons against it,” he was quoted by CNBC.

“There are good reasons for the (tank) deliveries and there are good reasons against, and in view of the entire situation of a war that has been ongoing for almost one year, all pros and cons must be weighed very carefully,” he said, without elaborating. “There clearly is no unified view. The impression that has occasionally arisen, that there is a closed coalition and Germany was standing in the way, this impression is wrong.”

London’s The Economist, which published a furious complaint Jan. 20 that Germany had gummed up the works by refusing to free up any of the more than 2,000 Leopard tanks held by 13 European countries to use in Ukraine, by the next day, were back to assuring everyone that the Ukrainian drive to take Crimea which the British are championing, is still on the table. “Ukraine needs tanks to resist what its officials view as an imminent Russian offensive. It also wants to claw back territory occupied by the Russians in Donbass, in the country’s east, and in the south, including Crimea,” they wrote on Jan. 21.

The British Establishment is well-aware that any Ukrainian offensive on Crimea would lead to a nuclear showdown between NATO and Russia—and that is precisely what they seek, as the Deputy Director General of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Malcolm Chalmers has publicly argued. In a May 20, 2022 article published by RUSI (“This War Still Presents Nuclear Risks—Especially in Relation to Crimea”), Chalmers wrote that a “Crimea missile crisis” could be the best option to force Russia to back down. “It would be a moment of extreme peril,” he admits, but “precisely because of the peril inherent in such a situation, a nuclear crisis of this sort could make it easier for leaders to make difficult compromises.”

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