Washington rarely stood up Germany in it USA as in focus as in the last few days. Not only are the US media discussing the federal government’s decision, not supply Ukraine with tanks for the time being in order to defend against the Russian invasion. The tank debate was also the number one topic at US department briefings, in Congress and at the White House. Memories of donald trump woke up, who was a regular critic of Germany during his presidency and thus made American headlines.

american president Joe Biden he was asked about the tank controversy at an event on Friday, and he responded briefly. “He Ukraine you will get all the help you need,” he said and left. The Kyiv government sees things differently. “There is no alternative to more tanks,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. For now though, the UK is the only country that will be sending tanks into the war zone.

Talks on a Western strategy for Ukraine seem stalled and Germany seems to be the main culprit for many countries. On Saturday, the foreign ministers of the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania called on the federal government to reconsider its decision. “Germany, as the leading European power, has a special responsibility,” the ministers wrote.

The German decision caused outrage in the United States. “The refusal of school‘, wrote the American historian Anne Applebaum on Saturday, ‘does not make sense.’ Applebaum accused the chancellor of “a personal quirk” that she “didn’t want to be told anything”.

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Lindsay Graham, a visiting Republican senator in Kyiv, was more explicit: he is tired of the “shit show” (an English term for chaos) about “who’s going to send tanks and when”. he said. “And I say to the Germans: send tanks to Ukraine. It is in their interest that Putin loses.”

Who will take the first step: Germany or the United States?

This was preceded by days of fighting for support for the Ukrainian war, which has lasted for almost eleven months. At the world economic summit in Davos and the Ukraine contact group meeting in Ramstein, the central issue was a threatening winter offensive by Moscow.

But the week ended in differences and disappointments. The conservative Wall Street Journal commented that the tank issue sparked the “first rupture within the Western alliance” since the Russian invasion.

>> Read also: Commentary: Chancellor’s hesitation plays into Putin’s favor

In fact, the desire for Germany to lead the way in tank deliveries is being expressed more and more clearly in the US. “We believe tanks are needed in the Ukraine,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, shortly after the Ramstein Contact Group concluded its meeting. The Leopard tanks are a “great system, very, very modern; very effective.” Addressing “Germany and all our allies and partners,” Kirby said: “If it can meet a need of the Ukrainians, then of course we want to see action on it.”

At the same time, the US does not want to provide its own US Abrams main battle tanks just yet. Officially, this is justified by practical concerns. “Leopards can maneuver over large tracts of territory before needing to refuel. The effort and high cost that would be required to maintain an Abrams is immense. It just doesn’t make sense at this point,” Defense Department spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said. Leopards, on the other hand, could be operational faster. According to estimates by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, there are 2,000 leopards spread across Europe.

German and US media had previously reported that Olaf Scholz (SPD) I put conditions on US President Biden. Therefore, the federal government would only deliver Leopard tanks if the US provided Abrams-type main battle tanks. Both the White House and the federal government denied the reports, but did not explain what else would stand in the way of joint tank deliveries.

Leopard II A4 main battle tank

German tanks could be crucial to the Ukrainian war.


(Photo: dpa)

An old conflict flares up again

No one in Washington assumes that this is a pure misunderstanding. The Germans had put the Americans “in an uncomfortable position,” a senior US government official was quoted as saying by CNN. Both Scholz and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck had stressed at Davos that Germany “did not want to go it alone” on the tank issue. The US government, on the other hand, does not want to be pressured. According to the responsible ministries, military aid is “a sovereign decision of each particular country.”

The United States and Germany are not so far behind on this issue. Along with Britain, Germany is the second largest donor of military aid to Ukraine. Since the outbreak of the war, the US has approved more than $27 billion in military aid, including combat vehicles, military trucks, mine-resistant vehicles, and the Patriot missile defense system. And Germany gradually approved more and more heavy combat equipment.

Germany and the United States are part of a broad “coalition of the willing,” Kirby stressed Friday, despite the tank controversy. Both countries have also not ruled out future tank deliveries.

>> Also interesting: Guest Post: Germany has a unique historical responsibility to help Ukraine

The Biden government, as described by diplomats, remains benevolent and supportive of Berlin. However, the conflict that had simmered for years over greater self-responsibility for Europe had surfaced again.

“Germany disappoints again”

In the Biden administration, each new military delivery is seen as a balancing act. parts of American Republican, who have held a majority in the House of Representatives since January, are threatening to block more funding for Ukraine. Also for tactical reasons, for example, the US does not want long-range missile systems in the depths Russia can penetrate, send to the country of war. Because that could drag the United States and its allies into immediate conflict with Putin. “They would NATO explode,” Biden said when meeting Zelensky at the White House before Christmas.

According to broadcaster NBC, there are strategic concerns behind the American tank brake. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Major General Mark Milley, the station said, simply do not consider Western tanks crucial on the battlefield, at least not currently. Teams with Stryker combat vehicles, for example, as they have just been certified, are more effective in the rural terrain of the fronts. “We’re obsessed with tanks, but there are other options,” Kirby said.

Despite this, there are calls in the US for more concessions from the American people. Markus Esper, former Secretary of Defense in the Donald Trump government, sees a duty in the United States. “Send some US tanks if necessary for Berlin to act,” he tweeted. “Germany disappoints again, but the West has no time to waste.”

Democrats made similar statements. “Scholz wants to be in tune with America,” Congressman Seth Moulton told CNN. “I think the United States should give some tanks if that is what Germany needs. That’s called leadership.” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal was also open to sending military aircraft.

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