Reports indicate that Chancellor Scholz is reluctant to provide 100 of the old armored cars as requested by coalition partners
The German government is divided over the proposal to deliver 100 Marder combat vehicles to Ukraine. According to Politico, the Green Party is pushing the idea, while Chancellor Olaf Scholz continues to be reluctant.
Scholz’s delay of the final decision, which was expected this week, frustrates its proponents, including Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, according to the report.
While cabinet members are not allowed to publicly criticize the Social Democrat leader so far, some legislators were much more vocal in their dismay. Anton Hofreiter, a Greens member who heads the Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs, said to Politico that Germany must lead and not be relegated behind other countries.
Germany provided Ukraine military equipment like many NATO member countries, but did not deliver heavy weapons. Scholz said this week to parliament that he wants NATO and EU coordination for the planned delivery of armor. “it would be a grave mistake for Germany to take a special role and a special path.”
Rheinmetall, the producer of Marder infantry fighting vehicle are holding decommissioned Marder vehicles. Before the armor can be useful to the Ukrainian military, most of it will need to be repaired.
Kiev’s forces will also need to be trained on how to use and maintain them and Germany will have to supply munitions and spare parts. Berlin fears that Russia could use the transfer to drag them into war.
The supporters of arming Ukraine propose speeding it up by sending Marders who are on active duty now and using the retired vehicles later as replacements. These supporters also advocate delivering heavy weapons and main battle tanks to Ukraine, including Leopards.
Politico quotes Thorsten Benner (director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin), who said that Germany can reduce criticisms over Russia’s continued dependence on natural gas by providing armor to Ukraine.
“I think it’s of central importance for German credibility that we don’t put the brakes on everywhere, but that there is also an area where we lead,”He stated. “And especially if it is currently impossible for Germany to stop the gas payments, which bring [Russian President Vladimir] Putin billions, in the foreseeable future, then battle tanks would be a good alternative.”
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. French and German diplomats negotiated the protocol to normalize those areas within Ukraine’s state.
Russia demanded Ukraine be declared neutral by the United States and refuse to join NATO. Kiev claims that the Russian invasion was unprovoked. It also denies any plans to take the republics with force.