Ukraine War, January 13, 2023: Mounting pressure on Scholz to transfer Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine

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To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, and you will see a list in chronological order.

To understand the broad context within which current developments in Ukraine should be considered,see

“Ukraine War, October 26, 2022: The context for analysis of current developments; The “dirty bomb” as a Russian propaganda distraction from current war crimes,” The Trenchant Observer, October 26, 2022.

Dispatches

1) Clemens Wergin, “Der Leopard als Gamechanger – so wichtig sind Panzer für den Krieg,” Die Welt, den 13. Januar 2023;

2) Clemens Wergin, “The leopard as a game changer – that’s how important tanks are for the war,” Die Welt, January 13, 2023;

3) Condoleezza Rice and Robert M. Gates,”Time is not on Ukraine’s side,” Washington Post, January 7, 2023 (7:00 a.m. EST);

Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. Robert M. Gates was secretary of defense from 2006 to 2011.

4) Claire Parker, “How Western combat vehicles bound for Ukraine could change the war,” Washington Post, January 13, 2023 (2:05 p.m. EST);

5) S. Bolt, P. Fritz, K. Violinist, M. Meister, and C. Schiltz, “Jetzt kann der Kanzler die Leopard-Lieferungen kaum noch verweigern,” Die Welt, den 14, Januar 2023 (07:26 Uhr);;

6) S. Bolt, P. Fritz, K. Violinist, M. Meister, and C. Schiltz, “Now the chancellor can hardly refuse the leopard deliveries, Die Welt, January 14, 2023 (07:26);

Analysis

Clemens Wegin of Die Welt and Claire Parker of the Washington Post examine he recent change in White House and NATO policy, which now permits the transfer of armored personnel carriers and fighting vehicles to Ukraine. NATO has dillied and dallied for many months before reaching this decision, which arguably has cost many Ukrainian lives.

Now attention is turning to the supply of battle tanks to Ukraine. Germany has a number of Leopard 2 battle tanks in storage and available, after refurbishing, for transfer to Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been dragging his feet for many months on this issue. The domestic outcry and demands from NATO partners are reaching a crescendo which is likely to force Scholz to authorize the tanks’ transfer soon.

Scholz’s Defense Minister, Christine Lambrecht, also from the SPD party,is facing a chorus of demands for her resignation, following 10 months of bureaucratic delays and alleged incompetence in authorizing the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. Other NATO countries have voiced their willingness to send some Leopard 2 battle tanks from their stocks to Ukraine. However, such transfers require authorization from Germany, where they were manufactured.

Lambrecht is trying to recover from the humiliation all 18 modern Puma infantry fighting vehicles having broken down in connection with a NATO exercise. She has also been criticized for private comments that have leaked to social media which many have deemed inappropriate–commenting on the war in Ukraine against an audible background of fireworks going off on New Year’s Eve. German news media report that ahe is likely to resign within the next week.

With his endless obfuscations and excuses for bureaucratic delays in the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, Scholz has lost a great deal of credibility and respect among NATO allies and the opposition in the Bundestag. One of his staunchest critics has been Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the Chair of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag. She is from the FDP, a partner in the ruling “traffic light coalition” which Scholz heads. There appears to be no one available who could replace Scholz and hold the coalitionp together.

S. Bolt, P. Fritz, K. Violinist, M. Meister, and C. Schiltz report that authorization by Scholz for the transfer of the Leopard 2 battle tanks now seems inevitable. There is indeed no rationale that distinguish between armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, on the one hand, and Leopard 2 battle tanks, on the other.

The critical question is going to be whether, with what appears to be a new assessment of the risk of provoking Putin to use nuclear weapons, authorization for transfer to Ukraine of the ATACMS rocket artillery shells for the HIMARS artillery units will now be forthcoming from the White House.

The Trenchant Observer

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