Germany does not plan to supply its Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told the German RND media group on Thursday in the wake of Warsaw’s decision to send German-made tanks to Kiev.
“This decision has not been made,” Lambrecht said when asked about the potential deliveries. The question of such supplies “does not arise” at the moment, she said, adding that Berlin would not make the decision alone.
Lambrecht did not rule out the deliveries completely, however. “In the times in which we live, we would be well advised to adapt” to the changing circumstances, the minister said, adding that the right approach would be to “rule out nothing.”
Berlin will deliver on its promise to send Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Kiev, she said, adding, though, that the delivery should be carried out in a way that affects the German Armed Forces – the Bundeswehr – as little as possible.
Kiev has long been requesting battle tanks from its Western backers amid the ongoing conflict with Russia. Berlin has so far been reluctant to meet these demands, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz repeatedly arguing that no other NATO country has made such weaponry available to Ukraine.
Earlier on Thursday, Poland’s government spokesman, Piotr Muller, said that Warsaw wanted to not only support Kiev with its tank delivery but also “enforce certain behaviors” by other states and “force” them to do the same. He did not say that this push was directed at Berlin but noted that Germany had already been prompted to increase its military support for Ukraine through international pressure.
Russia has repeatedly warned the West against supporting Ukraine with arms, arguing that it would only prolong the conflict and human suffering associated with it. Moscow has also warned Western nations that their continued military support for Ukraine increases the risk of escalation and foments a potential direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.