Ukraine War, January 18, 2023: Tank battles among Ukraine’s allies; Scholz acts in bad faith, will block transfer of Leopard 2 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) George F. Will, “Why Germany must not hesitate sending tanks to Ukraine — lots of them, Washington Post, January 18: 2023 (00 a.m. EST);;

2) Sylvie Kauffmann, “L’Allemagne détient la clé de l’accélérateur de l’aide militaire occidentale à l’Ukraine, au moment stratégique où cette assistance doit s’intensifier; Libérer des chars Leopard ou autoriser des pays européens à en céder à l’Ukraine est une décision lourde pour Berlin, jusqu’ici très réticent, observe, dans sa chronique, Sylvie Kauffmann, éditorialiste au ‘Monde’. Le 18 janvier 2023 (05h45, mis à jour à 06h44);

3) Sylvie Kauffmann, “Germany holds the key to the accelerator of Western military aid to Ukraine, at a strategic moment when this assistance must intensify; Freeing Leopard tanks or allowing European countries to give them to Ukraine is a heavy decision for Berlin, so far very reluctant, observes, Sylvie Kauffmann, editorialist at “Le Monde”, in her column,” Le Monde, January 18, 2023 (05:45, updated at 06:44);

4) Bojan Pancevski and Elena Cherney, “Berlin Won’t Allow Exports of German Tanks to Ukraine Unless U.S. Sends Its Own; North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies have over 2,000 German-made Leopard tanks, Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2023 (Updated 4:06 pm ET);

5) Christian Segura, “ATACMS, la llamada desesperada de Ucrania para recibir misiles de largo alcance; Kiev insiste en que el futuro de la guerra depende del suministro por parte de la OTAN de armas más potentes,” El País, el 17 de enero 2023 (23:40 EST);

6) Christian Segura, “ATACMS, Ukraine’s desperate call to receive long-range missiles; Kiev insists that the future of the war depends on NATO’s supply of more powerful weapons,” El País, January 17, 2023 (23;40 ESR);

7) Daniel Brössler, Georg Ismar, Wolfgang Krach, Nicolas Richter und Vivien Timmler (Berlin/Davos), “Scholz zu Kampfpanzer-Lieferung bereit – unter einer Bedingung; Der Kanzler ist offenbar zur Lieferung von “Leopard 2”-Panzern an die Ukraine bereit. Aber nur unter der Voraussetzung, dass auch die USA Kampfpanzer zur Verfügung stellen, Süddeutscher Zeitung, den 18. Januar 2023 (20:23 Uhr);

8) “Scholz ready for main battle tank delivery – under one condition: The chancellor is apparently ready to deliver “Leopard 2″ lancers to Ukraine. But only on the condition that the USA also provides main battle tanks,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 18, 2023 (8:23 p.m.).

Analysis

Bad faith. You don’t want a coalition partner who deals in bad faith.

Olaf Scholz is such a partner.

He apparently plans to block the delivery by Germany or by other European partners of German-made Leopard 2 tanks.

But he is being cute. He has stated he’s open to transferring the Leopard 2’s, provided the U.S. delivers its Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

The U.S. has ruled that out because the Abrams tanks use much greater fuel, and are difficult to operate and maintain, which could be nearly impossible theybare deployed to the battlefield in Ukraine.

Scholz seems to be even more afraid of Vladimir Putin and his nuclear threats than is Joe Biden.

Yet he may be even more afraid of losing the support of “the Putin Versteher” (those who understand Putin) and other frankly pacifist or pro-Russian elements within his own Social  Democratic Party (SDP), which he represents in leading the “traffic light coalition” currently in power in Germany. His coalition partners, the Green Party (“the Greens”) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) strongly favor delivering the tanks.

In effect, the NATO and other countries which want to deliver their own Leopard 2   tanks and other advanced weapons to Ukraine are being held hostage by pacifist and pro-Russian elements within the SPD.

Those elements are what is important to Scholz, not the military needs of Ukraine to repel the invasion by Russia, a nuclear superpower with far greater population and resources than Ukraine.

The Leopard 2 tanks are critically important elements of the combined forces Germany and other countries have just agreed to strengthen by promising to deliver infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and light reconnaissance tanks to Ukraine.

Scholz has interposed his political judgment (and needs) in the place of sound military judgment which supports delivery of the Leopard 2’s.

He was the Vice-Chancellor in the CDU-SPD coalition government of Àngela Merkel, where he apparently learned how to be opaque and muddle his way through difficult situations. Her approach led to her and the SPD’s support for the Nordstream II gas pipeline and for Germany’s extreme over-dependence on Russian gas.

He was  elected General Secretary of the SPD in 2002 and served alongside then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who when he left office went to work for the Russian gas companies involved with the Nordstream I and II pipeline projects. Schroeder became a close associate and friend of Putin.

Scholz has named Boris Pistorius to be the new Defense Minister, following the resignation on Monday of Christine Lambrecht, which could be a bow to the pacifist and Russia-friendly elements in his party. Pistorius has no cabinet level experience at the federal level, but a solid record as Interior Minister in Lower Saxony for over 10 years.

Whatever the causes, Scholz is blocking the transfer of the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, even by other countries, and setting forth a condition in bad faith which he knows will not be satisfied.

If Ukraine loses the war or the war drags on for a number of years, the foot-dragging of Olaf Scholz and the SPD in providing heavy weapons to Ukraine, along with that of Joe Biden. will have been major causes.

The Trenchant Observer

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