Germany has finally agreed to deliver its prized Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
By Mitchell Prothero
January 25, 2023
Vice World News
Russian pundits and officials have responded with outrage to Germany supplying tanks to Ukraine, one comparing the decision to send a battalion of tanks to an ally with the 1940 invasion of Russia by then-Nazi Germany.
The German government approved the transfer of a company of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday and indicated it would approve the transfer of potentially hundreds more from allies in a major diplomatic victory for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“The goal is to quickly assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. As a first step, Germany will provide a company with 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks. Other European partners will also hand over Leopard-2 tanks,” said the statement from Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Vladimir Solovyov, a hardline Russian television host, was so infuriated by the German decision that he mixed his racist metaphors.
“You European Pharisees, you Nazi scumbags,” he said, referencing both Nazis and Jews in the same epitaph. He also called for Russia to attack Berlin, so that Germany would “know which new Nazi leaders they’ve raised and brought to power.”
He added: “German tanks appearing will definitely mean we consider German territory, military bases and other sites as legitimate targets. NATO wants to fight in this cunning way, pretending that it’s not fighting. In your dreams. In your dreams!”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told AFP that the modern NATO tanks would be destroyed by Russian forces, just like Ukrainian tanks.
After weeks of tense negotiations among NATO allies, the US agreed to send about 30 M1A2 tanks to Ukraine, while the UK promised 14 of its Challenger 2 models in an effort to assuage German concerns about transferring heavy weapons for use against Russia.
Ukraine has asked for about 300 modern battle tanks from NATO arsenals to support an expected offensive this spring. Germany’s approval after weeks of hesitation could mean large numbers of German tanks stored in Poland, the Baltics and other NATO countries could be sent to Ukraine. There are at least 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks in current NATO stockpiles.
Both Russia and Ukraine have heavily relied on the same Soviet-era tanks during the nearly year- long conflict, so the addition of more modern and powerful Western tanks is expected to
eventually have an impact on the frontline, which has remained essentially static since a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in September.
US officials contend that adopting, supplying and maintaining units of Leopard’s will be easier for Ukrainians than the more complex and difficult to operate M1A2s, but Germany’s reluctance to be the only NATO member supplying NATO-style tanks to Ukraine forced the US and UK to also agree to transfers.