SSince it has become increasingly clear that, despite assurances to the contrary by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, not a single ring exchange of tanks has taken place between Germany, Ukraine and various other European NATO partners, MPs from the coalition partners FDP and Greens are calling for more direct deliveries of tanks Ukraine, as they took place for the first time on Monday with the delivery of three Gepards-type main battle tanks. The Union parties have announced that they want to demand a special session of the Bundestag during the summer break because of the “deception” of Parliament by the government, as it put it.
Both Scholz and Lambrecht had claimed since April there would be quick replacements for shipments of tanks to Ukraine from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Greece. Both Social Democrats had also said in the Bundestag that everything was going well and that degrees were imminent. Lambrecht had initially harshly rejected criticism from Poland and German MPs.
Only after repeated requests did the ministry admit to the FAZ last week that not a single contract had been signed to replace NATO partners with the promised tanks and other equipment that they had handed over in large numbers to Ukraine or the Ukrainians want to hand over the army.
Direct deliveries instead of ring exchange
FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai asked Minister Lambrecht on Monday to review the previous concept. It is also about Germany’s reputation as a NATO partner. Djir-Sarai said on “Deutschlandfunk” that the ring exchange was a good idea in theory. It must now be investigated why this does not work in practice.
Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens) had called on the government to look for alternatives to supporting Ukraine with weapons, “for example, to deliver weapons directly if we can”. The Green Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told the “Bild” newspaper: “If this path wasn’t right (…), then of course we have to reflect on it and see how we can then become active elsewhere”.
The accusation by Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek that the German government had duped Poland in the negotiations with a “deceptive maneuver” caused a stir. Regarding the alleged surprise at such words, Göring-Eckardt told the RND newspapers: “The statement from Poland may have been undiplomatic, but it is a wake-up call.”
Weapons deliveries decided “about the duration of the war, about human lives”. The chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), said she was pleased that Goering-Eckardt supported the direct delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Poland already has many “leopards”
Part of the inner-coalition conflict is that there are different views on the availability of weapons such as the Marder infantry fighting vehicle. The FDP defense politician Strack-Zimmermann demands comprehensive information (“cards on the table”). It seems clear that one’s own stocks are protected in order to be at least partially ready to defend against a Russian attack. However, such an attack implies a defeat for Ukraine, which in turn is to be prevented with weapons from NATO member states.
Depending on the source, Poland gave Ukraine 240 to 300 battle tanks of the Soviet type T-72 and apparently also relied on Germany for replacements. Now, as it was announced on Monday, Warsaw has started to deliver more tanks to Ukraine. As Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential office in Kyiv, wrote on Twitter on Monday, among them are examples of the PT-91 main battle tank, a version of the T-72M1 that has been completely renewed in Poland.