Berlin will send German tanks to Ukraine if the United States acts accordingly, a German government official said on Thursday, according to Reuters, as NATO allies search - partly unsuccessfully - for common ground on arming Kyiv, with Leopards taking center stage.
As is well known, Berlin has the ability to veto the deployment of German Leopards on NATO territory, which is Kyiv's ardent desire and is viewed as the ideal solution for Ukraine by most defense experts.
According to the same official, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz "has repeatedly stressed behind closed doors that a precondition for this to happen would be that Washington would also send American tanks."
A position with which Joe Biden does not appear to agree. The White House spokesman, when asked about this, said that "the president believes that each country should make its own sovereign decisions about the next steps in assistance to Ukraine".
"We don't have much time," Ukrainians say
While the fight between the allies is in full swing, the calls from the Ukrainian side continue. "We have no more time, the planet has no more time," senior presidential official Andrei Yemak wrote in a new Telegram message on Thursday.
Kyiv has indicated that the few vehicles promised by Western allies are insufficient, requesting 200 to 300 heavy tanks, 600 armored personnel carriers, and 500 Howitzer artillery pieces.
The Ukrainian army is already using Soviet-built tanks that were either donated by Eastern European allies or obtained as a result of the Russian army's retreat. The Western vehicles that the Ukrainians have requested will significantly improve the operational capability of the Ukrainian forces. "Agility is a required component of modern warfare," a European diplomat says. "If Ukraine retaliates, it will require maneuverable heavy artillery. Light vehicles are insufficient. They must have long-range weapons capable of destroying Russian tanks, such as the US HIMARS anti-tank rocket launchers "According to the diplomat.
France has announced the donation of AMX-10 light tanks to Kyiv, which will be delivered in two months, while the United Kingdom has announced the shipment of Challenger-2 heavy tanks.
Ukrainian officials are aware, however, that such a wide range of weapons systems is fraught with serious technical issues. The US Abrams M1 tanks have long-range guns, but their engines require a lot of kerosene to run. Although the British Challenger-2 would be a significant upgrade over the Ukrainian army's Soviet tanks, Kyiv insists on the German Leopard-2, which can hit a target the size of a domestic refrigerator at a distance of three kilometers while in motion; their engine also uses diesel, which is easier to transport and produce than kerosene.
The countries involved intend to gradually market the new tanks in Ukraine, giving Ukrainian operators time to train on the new weapons and Kyiv staff time to build the necessary technical infrastructure.
With information from Reuters, the Guardian, and Politico