On Friday, defense leaders from the U.S., Poland, Ukraine and Germany and other allies met to resolve the heavily debated issue of providing advanced battle tanks to Ukraine. The meeting took place at a U.S. airbase in Ramstein, Germany, and discussions lasted over five hours. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak called the meeting a “good discussion among allies” but revealed that no final decisions were made. Poland has pledged a company of 14 Leopard tanks on the condition that other countries who have Leopards supply them as well. Representatives from the 15 other countries who have the German-made Leopard tanks were all present at the meeting.
Germany would need to consent in order for any nation to supply Ukraine with Leopards, since they are German made. So far, they have resisted doing so amid mounting pressure from Poland and other countries who are ready to supply Ukraine. The United States has not offered to provide their own M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine due to the complex logistics of delivery and unfamiliarity Ukrainian forces have with the tank. Ukrainian troops would need far less training to operate the Leopards than the Abrams and the Leopards are already located in allies which are close to Ukraine.
The German Hesitancy
Some U.S. officials believe the Germans do want to provide their tanks unless the U.S. sends their Abrams tanks. But Steffen Hebestreit, a spokesman for the German government, has denied that they demanded the U.S. supply Abrams tanks alongside with their shipment. At a news conference Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also dismissed this theory and said “This notion of our locking, you know, in my mind, it’s not an issue.” When asked whether he thought Germany was doing their part to support Ukraine, Austin responded, “They are a reliable ally and they’ve been that way for for a very, very long time. And I truly believe that they’ll continue to be a reliable ally going forward.”
Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly criticized Germany for holding back assistance to the war effort