Agreement on Western systems: NATO does not want to deliver heavy tanks to Ukraine

The arms deliveries from NATO countries to Ukraine are a balancing act.

Agreement on Western systems: NATO does not want to deliver heavy tanks to Ukraine

The arms deliveries from NATO countries to Ukraine are a balancing act. They could be taken as a provocation in Moscow. As a result, there were hitherto little-known agreements not to supply certain heavy weapons. Now it is known which one.

According to dpa information, there are informal agreements among the NATO countries to refrain from delivering certain weapon systems to Ukraine. Alliance circles in Brussels confirmed that this will keep the risk of a direct military confrontation between NATO countries and Russia as low as possible. It is feared, for example, that Russia could officially see the delivery of Western battle tanks and combat aircraft as entering the war and then take military retaliatory measures. Weapon systems of this type have not yet been delivered to Ukraine.

The defense policy spokesman for the SPD, Wolfgang Hellmich, confirmed in the evening that NATO had informally agreed not to deliver any western-style heavy battle tanks or infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine without prior agreement. "The Defense Committee was fully informed of this in mid-May," said Hellmich.

Hellmich explained that there are no formal NATO resolutions because the alliance itself does not supply weapons, but rather the individual member states. So far, however, all partners have kept to the informal agreement. "Anyone who claims otherwise has either not listened properly or knowingly tells the untruth," said Hellmich.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz answered questions from the Defense Committee on May 11. Even then, after the meeting, Hellmich had spoken of a NATO decision "not to supply heavy battle tanks, no Leclerc and no Leopard". That was "decided and decided among themselves" in NATO.

On Sunday, the parliamentary state secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Siemtje Möller from the SPD, said on ZDF that it was stipulated within NATO "that no armored personnel carriers or battle tanks of Western models would be delivered". That had sparked discussions.

Armored personnel carriers are smaller and lighter than main battle tanks. The Bundeswehr has Leopard-type battle tanks and Marder-type armored personnel carriers. The armaments group Rheinmetall has offered to deliver used examples of both models directly to Ukraine. Nothing is known about a formal decision by the federal government. It has so far only publicly committed to supplying Ukraine with two types of heavy weapons: Cheetah anti-aircraft tanks and Panzerhaubitzen 2000 (heavy artillery pieces). However, Ukraine is also demanding that Germany supply battle tanks and armored personnel carriers to defend against the Russian attackers.

Agreements in the past have been indirectly confirmed by French President Emmanuel Macron, among others. In March, after a special summit of the heads of state and government of the NATO countries on the subject of arms deliveries, he said: "There is a limit, and that is not becoming a party to the war." This border is shared by all Allies and that is why no one has yet delivered weapons such as airplanes.

NATO, on the other hand, protects the federal government. "Germany has provided Ukraine with thousands of weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles," a spokesman said. In addition, the German decision to provide Ukraine with artillery weapons and anti-aircraft tanks is also welcomed.

Against this background, it was also emphasized in alliance circles that the risk analyzes for arms deliveries are constantly being updated. Accordingly, it cannot be ruled out that at some point western battle tanks and fighter jets will also be delivered to Ukraine.