Germany supports Ukraine both militarily and financially and is planning a massive expansion of this commitment. Russian experts comment on the question of how long the German government can maintain this in view of the impending collapse of domestic industry and growing social tensions in the country.
-By Alexander Karpov and Alyona Medvedeva
Germany will not unilaterally supply Kiev with Western-designed tanks, including the German Leopard 2, without consulting its partners, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag. When asked by the journalist why he still refuses to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2s, Scholz confined himself to recalling that Germany had facilitated the transfer of Soviet-type equipment from Eastern European countries to Kiev.
“Through the ring exchange (delivery of modern weapons from the FRG to countries supplying Soviet-type equipment to Ukraine – ed.), Germany has ensured the delivery of more than 100 tanks to Ukraine, which can be used there immediately: from the Czech Republic, from Slovakia, from Slovenia, from Greece,” the chancellor said.
Scholz explained the preference for handing over Russian and Soviet-made tanks to Kiev by the fact that the Ukrainian side has spare parts and ammunition for these tanks.
It should be recalled that the Kiev regime has repeatedly asked Germany to supply it with modern Leopard-2 battle tanks, but Scholz has repeatedly rejected this possibility.
Domestic dispute over extending Ukraine aid
Other members of Germany’s ruling coalition, however, insist on expanding deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Kiev. Journalists from Der Spiegel report on an internal letter leaked to them that Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht wrote to Finance Minister Christian Lindner. In the letter, they demanded that 1.5 billion euros more than already provided for in the budget be made available for arms deliveries to Kiev next year.
The adopted federal budget for 2023 provides 697 million euros for military support to Ukraine, Lambrecht and Baerbock now demand that this amount be increased to 2.2 billion euros. Only with such a budget would Germany be in a position, the letter quoted by Der Spiegel said, to “concretely and visibly assume the responsibility that international partners expect.”
Berlin has already supplied a considerable amount of weapons and military equipment to Kiev in 2022. According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, the country has so far handed over weapons worth 686 million euros to the Ukrainian military. A list of what has been delivered published by the German government lists Gepard anti-aircraft systems, M113 armored personnel carriers, MARS multiple rocket launchers with ammunition, IRIS-T-SLM anti-aircraft systems, PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers, 500 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as well as spare parts for MiG-29 fighter aircraft and over 14,000 anti-tank mines.
German-Russian relations damaged
Moscow has warned Berlin on several occasions that supplying arms and military equipment to Ukraine would mean a departure from the special relationship between Russia and the FRG. In an interview with TASS on October 18, Russian Ambassador to Germany Sergei Netshaev recalled that Berlin had previously refrained from sending weapons and heavy military equipment to armed conflict zones for decades:
“There was a broad domestic political consensus on this issue. The practice has changed only now and only with regard to Russia. It was a decision by the new coalition government of the Federal Republic of Germany, which we consider a serious mistake. Such a turnaround can, of course, only have a very negative impact on our bilateral relations and the prospects for their development.”
The diplomat added that further uncontrolled arms deliveries to Ukraine would only prolong the conflict, lead to more destruction and civilian casualties, and further destabilize the situation in Europe, including Germany.
How free is Germany in its decisions?
German authorities cannot take a negative position on arms deliveries to Ukraine because of their dependence on the United States, surmises Vladimir Shapovalov, deputy director of the Institute of History and Politics at Moscow State University.
“We see how hard the U.S. is dealing with Germany and how it is forcing it to follow its course,” he said. Olaf Scholz and his three-party government are not able to resist Washington’s dictates,” the expert stressed in an interview with RT.
According to the analyst, the number of German citizens who disagree with this policy is significantly underestimated and could include in 50 percent of the population.
“The very serious economic and energy problems that Germany is currently experiencing are affecting the well-being of Germans. They recognize that these are serious and long-term problems. Germany’s economic prosperity was based on its partnership with Russia. With its policy, which is completely contrary to Germany’s national interest, the government is inflicting serious damage not only on Germans living today, but also on the next generation,” Shapovalov explains.
Germany is trying to maneuver between two poles: Berlin is already supplying heavy military equipment such as Gepard anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, but is trying not to cross a certain line, which for Scholz is the delivery of Leopard-2 tanks to Kiev, according to Alexander Kamkin, senior researcher Institute of International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“The issue of arms deliveries is very controversial in the FRG. Most German politicians understand the ambivalence of the situation very well, because the German Basic Law stipulates that a threat of war must never emanate from the country’s territory, and supplying weapons to the Kiev regime is an escalation of the conflict,” the expert stressed in a commentary for RT.
At the same time, Kamkin explained, the current German leadership cannot completely refuse military support to Kiev, both because of pressure from the United States and because of domestic political pressure from the Greens, especially around Baerbock:
“It is the Greens who (…) are calling for increased arms deliveries directly to Ukraine. It used to be the party of pacifists, today it is the most militant. By and large, it can be assumed that Germany will continue funding Ukraine because NATO allies, especially the UK and the US, demand it. Scholz is adopting a subservient attitude toward NATO partners.”
The German political class, the political scientist sums up, has become hostage to a supposed “value politics” that often runs counter to economic logic and expediency. Germany, Kamkin says, has reached a point where there is actually not enough money to bail out its own industry, yet Berlin is willing to feed the Kiev regime to the hilt.
“Obviously, consensus with its partners is much more important to Berlin than the well-being of its citizens,” the expert concludes.