Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Why German chancellor is reluctant to supply heavy arms to Ukraine

Olaf Schultz and Vladimir Zelenskyy

German chancellor Olaf Scholz defended his administration’s reluctance to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine stating the threat of a potential nuclear war in Eastern Europe. 

Speaking to German weekly Der Spiegel, he asserted that everything must be done to “avoid a direct confrontation between NATO and a highly armed nuclear power like Russia.” While giving no details on the future supply of arms to Ukrainian troops, he said that Berlin would continue to strive “to prevent an escalation that would lead to a third world war.”

Bundestag has triggered severe backlash for its apparent reluctance to send heavy and lethal weapons to Ukraine, despite multiple requests by the Zelenskyy administration. “In this situation, you need a cool head and well-considered decisions, because our country bears responsibility for peace and security throughout Europe,” the German chancellor said adding that “There must be no nuclear war.”

Asked what made him sure that sending German tanks to Ukraine would trigger a catastrophic reaction from Vladimir Putin, Scholz argued that “there is no textbook for this situation where you can read at what point we are perceived as a belligerent.”

Discreetly, the country’s Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has proposed a set up a ‘circular exchange’ with EU and NATO states which would mean that other countries would supply arms for which Berlin will later compensate. In addendum, she also suggested that Soviet-made weapons including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles could be used in the fighting. It is pertinent to note that arms delivery has become a political issue with opposition Christian Democrats announcing that they would submit a motion to parliament next week asking the government to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine.

She said, ” It (using Soviet-made arms) could imply tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and various alternatives that individual countries could offload. We are currently discussing this, and things are running very fast”. Asked when Ukraine could get that heavy weaponry, the German defence minister said, “it could happen within days”. Earlier this month, a report by DW stated that Germany’s list of weapons for Ukraine has not been agreed “with anyone” in Kyiv. Interestingly, the plan for a circular exchange was earlier put forward by German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who also acts as Economy and Climate Action Minister.

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