Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has obliquely criticized Germany for its hesitation over the supply of modern Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help the country fight back against invading Russian forces.
Speaking on Jan. 19 during the Ukrainian Breakfast Discussion as part of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Zelenskyy said there are times when “you don’t need to hesitate,” in comments seemingly directed at German Chancellor Olaf Schulz.
“There are specific things on which the resistance on the battlefield depends,” Zelenskyy said
“And we expect these specific things. I can thank our partners again for your help. But you know, there are times when you don’t need to hesitate, don’t need to compare (what others are doing). When you say that ‘I will give tanks if someone else also gives the tanks’ or ‘I’m powerful in Europe, I will help if someone outside of Europe also helps.’ It seems to me this is not right strategy.”
While the Ukrainian president did not specify which country he was referring to, it was obvious he was talking about Germany and Scholz’s cautious position on the issue of sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy added that all citizens of Ukraine were today defending Europeans and all their values.
“These are very crucial times, so there can be no (conditional aid) or selectivity in strengthening our army,” he said.
“We need all forces, as we’re fighting against this tyranny, which calls itself publicly our ‘neighbor.’”
Following numerous Ukrainian requests, Poland has decided to transfer German-made Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda said during his visit to Lviv, Ukraine, on Jan. 11, where he met with his Ukrainian and Lithuanian counterparts, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Gitanas Nauseda.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has also indicated his country’s willingness to supply a small number of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
However, Germany’s consent will be necessary for these deliveries, as it has final say over the re-export of German-made arms.
German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said a week prior that Berlin will not stand in the way if Warsaw decides to send their own Leopard 2 battle tanks to Kyiv, though German Chancellor Olaf Scholz claimed his country will continue to “weigh every step carefully” on further weapons supply to Ukraine.
On Jan. 17, the Reuters news agency reported that at Davos, Germany’s partners increased pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to allow the transfer of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
German media reported on Jan. 18 that German Chancellor Scholz had told U.S. President Joe Biden that Berlin will allow shipments of German-made Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine if the United States decides to make Abrams tanks available to Kyiv.