Early Wednesday morning, the German government acquiesced to international pressure and approved measures to supply “up to two battalions” of Leopard II A6 tanks to Ukraine with an initial tranche of fourteen vehicles. The agreement will also include logistics and maintenance support, possibly within Germany or Poland for the vehicles.
Germany will also issue licenses for more than a dozen countries to begin supplying Ukraine with the tanks. Several NATO nations have already pledged to send more than one hundred Leopard IIs to Ukraine.
Several ministers within the German government applauded the decision, including Justice Minister Buschmann and Finance Minister Lindner.
Die Bundesregierung hat heute entschieden, der Ukraine Panzer vom Typ Leopard 2 zu liefern. Ich begrüße das – insbesondere auch, dass es eng abgestimmt im Bündnis stattfindet.
Wir müssen die Verteidigungskraft der Ukraine stärken, damit sie ihren Verteidigungskampf gewinnt.
— Marco Buschmann (@MarcoBuschmann) January 25, 2023
— Christian Lindner (@c_lindner) January 25, 2023
However, it is not immediately clear how the German military and Chancellory feels about the development considering the significant problems facing their own readiness. In the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany was unable to supply Ukraine with lethal aid, as many pointed out, German stockpiles of MANPADS and artillery shells were in a state of decay. As the leader of the NATO Very High Readiness Task Force, it has certain responsibilities to fill, of which there are already doubts.
In fact, German Armed Forces Chairperson Wustner told German press this morning that operational readiness is at risk if these tanks are supplied to Ukraine. Der Spiegel published today:
“The tank delivery was “good for the Ukraine on the one hand, bad for the Bundeswehr’s operational readiness on the other hand,” said Wüstner in the ZDF “Morgenmagazin”. One should not believe that the Ukraine war will be over in two or three months. With regard to arms deliveries, it will not stop with the tanks already delivered and promised by Germany.””
Yesterday, the U.S. government commented that M1 Abrams tanks would be sent to Ukraine over several months, if not years, in a modernization package that would systematically alter the face of the Ukrainian military. Due to the technological advancement of the American tanks, logistics footprint, and fuel supply, the tanks could not be packaged and shipped to Ukraine for immediate combat. However, the agreement seemed to have appeased the Germans who sought such a deal before they agreed to send their premier main battle tank.
Russian Presidential Spokesperson Peskov did not comment on the transfer of the Leopards. However, when asked about the transfer of Abrams, he said that “American tanks will be destroyed by Russian air power in Ukraine.”