German Chancellor Olaf Scholz faced renewed calls Thursday to deliver Leopard tanks long sought by Kyiv, after France became the first in the West to agree to supply light tanks to Ukraine.
Ukraine had repeatedly asked for Germany’s battle tanks in its fight against Russia, but Berlin has pointed out that no other Western partners had thus far provided such armaments.
Critics say Scholz can no longer hide behind that argument.
“The argument constantly advanced by the chancellery that Germany must not go it alone is absolutely out of date,” said Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, who heads the parliamentary defense committee.
“France is once again taking on the role that was expected of Germany, and is going ahead alone,” she told AFP.
Strack-Zimmermann, who is from the liberal FDP party, a junior partner in Scholz’s coalition, said the chancellor “should finally recognise the sign of the times and follow up.”
“The ball is in Berlin’s court,” she said.
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who according to reports in local media, is set to become Germany’s new ambassador to Russia, also suggested that Berlin’s position has to be reassessed.
“I think that overall, it is an entirely new situation for the West when countries go and deliver new categories” of armaments, he told German radio.
France’s most to supply the French-made AMX-10 RC also piles on pressure at a time when Germany’s defense minister Christine Lambrecht already faces criticism over a New Year’s message posted on social media.
Filmed on the streets of Berlin as fireworks were going off during chaotic New Year’s celebrations, Lambrecht had reflected on a year ending with “war raging in the middle of Europe.”
The conflict in Ukraine had led to “a lot of special experiences” and the chance for “many encounters with great and interesting people,” Lambrecht said in the clip posted on her personal Instagram account that has sparked calls for Scholz to sack her.