A battalion should get the Ukraine – but that will not happen, at least for the time being. Defense Minister Pistorius speaks of an “intermediate step”.
For the time being, Germany cannot fulfill its battle tank promise to Ukraine to the extent announced. Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) said on Wednesday after talks on the sidelines of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels that “half a battalion” of Leopard 2 tanks had come together. These included the 14 tanks of the newer type A6 promised by the federal government and three more from Portugal.
At the end of January, Germany had set itself the goal of making an entire battalion with 30 to 31 main battle tanks available to Ukraine. Poland plans to deliver another battalion of older-type Leopard 2 tanks.
On the fringes of the NATO Council in Brussels, Germany, Poland and Ukraine invited people to what Pistorius called a “tank lunch”. The Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov was “satisfied” afterwards, reported Pistorius. Resnikov had personally traveled to Brussels.
Pistorius wants to hold further talks
Pistorius spoke of an “intermediate step” and referred to further talks, also on the fringes of the Munich Security Conference starting Friday. In Brussels, the defense minister wanted to meet with the Dutch head of department, Kajsa Ollongren.
Originally there had been speculation about a delivery of 14 more Leopard 2 tanks of newer models from the Netherlands. However, these are needed for the German-Dutch brigade, as Pistorius has now announced. Passing them on to Ukraine would mean a “further weakening of the Bundeswehr’s operational readiness,” he said.
He is not aware of an official request from The Hague to pass it on to Kiev. Since the Leopard 2 tanks come from German production, Berlin would have to officially agree to a levy.