Alliance for Ukraine has gaps: Melnyk calls for "global tank coalition"

In addition to Germany, other European partners want to supply battle tanks to Ukraine, and the federal government wants a broader, united front.

Alliance for Ukraine has gaps: Melnyk calls for "global tank coalition"

In addition to Germany, other European partners want to supply battle tanks to Ukraine, and the federal government wants a broader, united front. If Deputy Foreign Minister Melnyk has his way, it should be as "global" as possible.

After its decision to supply Leopard main battle tanks, the federal government is struggling to obtain commitments from other countries. After the political approval of deliveries, the planned alliance is not yet complete, government circles in Berlin told the German Press Agency at the weekend. However, Poland and Canada have started to take concrete steps - at the weekend there was a commitment from Portugal for the delivery of modern Leopard 2A6, which Germany also wants to give.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk, his country's former ambassador to Germany, called on all Leopard user states on Twitter to contribute to a "global tank coalition" to make the liberation of all occupied territories possible in 2023. He wrote: "Our survival as a state and as a cultural nation is in danger."

On January 25, the German government announced that it would deliver 14 Leopard 2A6s, after Poland had already applied for delivery permits for older Leopard 2A4s. Both states are thus taking a first step which, with the participation of partners, should lead to the formation of two Ukrainian Leopard battalions. In Ukraine, these are usually equipped with 31 tanks each. Germany also wants to have five Leopard 2A6s ready as a replacement. While there are already announcements from other countries for the older Leopard model 2A4, the supply situation for the newer type 2A6 was initially thin.

Canada loaded the first Leopard 2 on a transport plane over the weekend to bring the weapon system to Europe. "The main battle tanks are on their way to help Ukraine," Defense Minister Anita Anand wrote in a video on Twitter on Saturday. Your country also wants to participate in the training. The Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa meanwhile promised a delivery, but left the exact number open. His country is currently in contact with Germany about the overhaul of Leopard tanks, the Portuguese state news agency Lusa reported.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz countered fears that Germany could be drawn into Russia's war against Ukraine by supplying battle tanks. He told the "Bild" newspaper: "We have carefully weighed every delivery of arms, closely coordinated with our allies, above all with America. This joint approach prevents the war from escalating." In telephone calls, he made it "very clear" to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia alone was responsible for the war. Putin threatened neither him - Scholz - nor Germany.

The "Spiegel" reported that Scholz had previously tried in several telephone calls to win over heads of government for delivery commitments. According to "Spiegel" information, no EU country wanted to make any concrete commitments about participating in the tank package during a video call to which Defense Minister Boris Pistorius had invited. Even the Dutch government, which, like Poland, had already promised to supply Leopard 2 tanks in the media, did not want to commit itself.

The Portuguese Costa said during a visit of the Portuguese military mission in the Central African Republic: "We are currently working on being able to do without some of our tanks. I know how many tanks will be (sent by us to Ukraine), but that will only come soon announced in due course." As a possible date for the posting, Costa called a period of time “until the end of March” on the state TV broadcaster RTP. The Portuguese Armed Forces have a total of 37 Leopard 2A6s, which were bought used from the Netherlands years ago.

Spain wants to deliver four to six Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine in a first tranche, as the newspaper "El País" reported, citing government circles in Madrid. The Spanish Ministry of Defense would neither deny nor confirm the report. The newspaper wrote that these were Type 2A4 tanks that had been mothballed in Zaragoza since 2012. They would first have to be repaired, which would take about two and a half months and could cost more than 500,000 euros per tank. The exact number of tanks that Spain can deliver depends on the condition of the 53 Leopards that are mothballed.

Poland has already started training Ukrainian soldiers on the Leopard, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said, according to news portal on Saturday. According to a report by the PAP agency, Blaszczak explained that the precise delivery modalities for the tanks themselves will be discussed with the NATO allies at a meeting in mid-February.