Baerbock promises Ukraine military support as long as needed during Kiev visit

Baerbock promises Ukraine military support for as long as necessary during her visit to Kiev

Ukraine increasingly presses Germany to supply battle tanks to retake Russian-occupied territories. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stressed on Saturday after a meeting with his counterpart Annalena Baerbock (Greens) in Kiev that the Leopard 2 tanks were urgently needed to break through enemy lines. "Every day that someone in Berlin thinks about it or discusses whether you can deliver tanks or not (…), someone dies in Ukraine because the tank has not yet arrived," he said.

Baerbock reacted cautiously to the demand, but pledged to examine it. "As the situation on the ground changes, so do we keep looking at our support and will discuss further steps together with our partners," she said, adding, "I know that time is running out." Initially, the Green politician did not make any new promises regarding weapons deliveries during her twelve-hour surprise visit to Kiev. However, she promised that Germany would support Ukraine militarily "for as long as necessary.".

Meanwhile, increasing pressure is also coming from the coalition parties in Berlin. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil called for quick decisions on further support steps in light of the successes of the Ukrainian armed forces. "Of course, we in the Western alliance must also assess: Must there now be further deliveries of weapons??", he told ARD television. FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann made a clear plea for the delivery of battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. She said now was not the time for "hesitation and dithering". Green Party defense expert Agniezka Brugger told Funke-Mediengruppe: "All options must be put to the test once again without any thought restrictions."

Baerbock pledges help in clearing mines

Baerbock was the first member of the German government to visit Kiev for the second time since the war began. She traveled from Poland to Kiev on Saturday night with a special train and a small delegation. After her arrival, the minister visited a minefield in Velyka Dymerka just outside the capital and pledged further assistance to Ukraine in removing ordnance there. She said this was important, along with the supply of weapons, to make life safer for people in areas temporarily taken by the Russian army.

Kuleba: "Weapons, weapons, weapons"

Kuleba made it very clear at the joint press conference with Baerbock in the evening that the Ukrainian government currently has other priorities: "Weapons, weapons, weapons" has been the demand of his government since the spring, he said. The frequency of deliveries is now becoming more and more decisive. "Every day, new weapons systems with ammunition must arrive in Ukraine. This is the prerequisite for victory," he said. He hopes for Germany's support on this issue. "The victory of Ukraine is the end of the war and that means a solution to a lot of problems of Europe."

Ukraine has been asking for the German Leopard 2 main battle tanks for a long time now. But with the counteroffensive in full swing and the recapture of large areas in the northeast of the country, it now has a military argument that its Western partners will find difficult to get past. "Tanks are offensive weapons that break through the defenses of the enemy. And with German tanks we would liberate even more territories," Kuleba stressed.

Scholz waits for the USA – resistance from Lambrecht

Germany is supplying Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled howitzers 2000, i.e. heavy artillery pieces with a range of up to 40 kilometers. However, Berlin has so far not been able to bring itself to provide battle tanks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) repeatedly answers questions about this by saying that Germany does not go it alone. No other NATO state sends battle tanks to Ukraine either. One orients oneself there above all at the USA.

Of the cabinet members responsible for aid to Ukraine, Baerbock is the most likely to express sympathy for the delivery of battle tanks. It's a different story with Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. Kuleba made it clear at the press conference with Baerbock that he sees the SPD politician as offering the most resistance. During his visit to Berlin in May, he said, he had "the most open, tough and direct conversation" with her. He is a diplomat and therefore does not want to comment on this further.

Klitschko: "Deliver what you can"

Pressure from Ukraine on the federal government is now coming from all sides. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal made main battle tanks a top topic of his meeting with Scholz at the Chancellery a week ago. Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko spoke out over the weekend via the Bild newspaper, demanding Leopard 2 tanks: "My request to the German government is: deliver what you can to quickly expel the Russian soldiers from our country."Next week the Ukrainian parliament speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk will be in Berlin. During his visit, too, the demand for tanks is likely to be at the top of the list of priorities.

Kuleba expressed confidence on Saturday that the demands will ultimately succeed. "I am convinced that in the end German tanks will also be delivered to Ukraine," he said. "Only the German government (…) needs time to go through a development until such a decision is made."