Allies who asked Berlin to “free the leopards” have so far failed to deliver on their rhetoric
Germany has urged its European partners to keep their promises to supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks. Few countries have stepped up to provide the German-made weapon, despite loud calls for Berlin to approve shipments to Kiev earlier this year.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz argued that his country has an obligation to help Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, but suggested that Berlin’s allies have not followed through on promises to send Leopard 2 main battle tanks from their own stockpiles. .
“Those who can send such tanks should actually do so,” the chancellor saidadding that he and other top German officials have been “intensive campaign” for allies to send the weapon.
While Scholz initially refused to send Leopard 2s and declined to allow other countries to export the tank to Ukraine, saying he would only do so if allies followed suit and supplied their own tanks, he later succumbed to a Western press campaign .
Germany eventually agreed to send 14 Leopard 2s and said it would work with partners to create two armored battalions containing 30 tanks each. But despite loud calls to Berlin to “free the leopards”, Germany’s EU and NATO allies have been reluctant to act on their own rhetoric. So far, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland and Turkey have outright refused to send Leopard tanks, while other nations such as Sweden – a prospective NATO member – have made no clear commitments on the issue.
Finland – another NATO hopeful who helped popularize the “free the leopards” slogan used to pressure Germany – has said it would consider joining Ukraine “tank coalition”, but only to help train soldiers on how to use the Leopard 2 instead of sending one of their own.
READ MORE: Two EU states refuse to send Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev – media
Canada, Norway, Portugal and Poland are among the few other states that have agreed to supply leopards, although German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius admitted this week that they had only been gathered “half a battalion” so far, it is far from Kiev’s demand for up to 300 tanks.
Moscow has repeatedly called for Western arms shipments to Ukraine, arguing that the weapons will only prolong the conflict and make a negotiated solution impossible. The Kremlin has stated that any Leopard tanks sent to the battlefield would do so “burn,” Insisting that no amount of foreign weapons would deter its military goals.