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Scholz complains about 'pressure' to supply tanks to Ukraine, says he won't rush with decisions.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Jan. 13 complained about alleged pressure to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine and said that Germany would not rush to deliver weapons and would "weigh every step carefully," AP and Der Spiegel reported.
Since the beginning of Russia's all-out invasion in February 2022, Scholz has been criticized for delaying and blocking arms supplies to Ukraine. Amid pressure from the media, the public and NATO allies, Germany has increased its arms supplies to Ukraine but Scholz is still accused of being reluctant to antagonize Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Currently a lot depends on the position of Germany, since several countries are reportedly ready to supply German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine. They need approval from the German government, which has not made a decision on the issue yet.
Scholz said he had no intention of being rushed on “such serious things that have to do with peace and war, with the security of our country and of Europe," AP reported.
“It always remains the case that we act in close consultation and weigh every step carefully,” Scholz said.
He added that a majority in Germany supports his government’s “calm, well-considered and careful” decision-making, according to AP.
Kyiv has been long pleading for the supply of Western-designed tanks.
In the face of the anticipated renewed Russian offensive in the spring, the Ukrainian authorities scaled up their rhetoric.
“I think that the German government, somewhere deep down, understands that this decision will be made, and the tanks will be transferred to Ukraine. The only upsetting thing is that this decision has not been made yet, and we are losing precious time and lives because of this,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Jan. 10.
On Jan. 13, Kuleba reported that five countries are ready to transfer Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, but they are waiting for permission from Germany.
Poland and Finland have publicly announced plans to supply Leopard tanks, while three other countries have said “privately” that they are ready to supply them, according to Kuleba.
“I know at least three countries that are ready to do this (supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks), but they are not talking about it yet, because they want to say it out loud only when they are 100% percent sure that the Germans will come out and say: we are in,” Kuleba said.
Bloomberg reported on Jan. 13, citing two unnamed officials familiar with the matter, that Germany will likely make a decision next week on whether to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
According to the officials, Berlin will decide ahead of the Ramstein defense summit on Jan. 20.
The day before the gathering, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht will meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Lambrecht will send “a clear message” at the Rammstein meeting regarding the Leopards, the report reads.
On Jan. 10, Politico reported that France was putting increasing pressure on Berlin ahead of a Franco-German summit on Jan. 22, while Poland also exerted pressure on Germany by publicly calling for a broad coalition among Western allies to hand over Leopards.