Germany is almost ready (to give permission) to deliver the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. This is what geopolitical expert Han ten Broeke says in Good Morning Netherlands on NPO 1. Berlin has so far been reticent, but international pressure is increasing. “Germany is almost over the bend and actually over,” says Ten Broeke.
“The fight (within the German coalition, ed.) was between Die Grünen, who are in favor, and the Sozialdemokratische Partei, who are holding back because they are rooted in Ostpolitiken. But credit where credit is due; Chancellor Olaf Scholz actually abolished Ostpolitik,” says Ten Broeke, director of political affairs at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies.
This means that now also “the German Social Democrats are getting used to the idea that they share the responsibility for the defense of Europe”.
Kiev has been asking for heavy (offensive weapons), including tanks, for months. The West has long held back for fear of getting involved in or provoking the war in Ukraine. More than ten months after the start of the Russian invasions, this reluctance appears to be coming to an end.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Handelsblatt on Sunday that Ukraine can soon expect more deliveries of heavy weapons from Western countries. Last week, Britain decided to deliver 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Kiev.
Other Western countries would like to follow suit, but are dependent on Germany because that country must give permission for the deployment of Leopard (2) tanks, which many Western countries have. Today, NATO generals are meeting in Brussels to discuss the supply of (offensive) weapons to Ukraine.
The West takes the next step by supplying tanks. Ten Broeke: “What you get next is the discussion about the use of aircraft. It is still many steps too far, but that was also said about the tanks a few months ago.”
The tanks, which enable Ukraine to go on the offensive, are needed to prevent the war from becoming a “frozen conflict”, says Ten Broeke. According to him, Ukraine’s allies fear that. “The front is moving, but not fundamentally. These are small changes. There is a fear that the two sides will soon face each other like weary boxers, and no real territorial gains will be made without them talking or conceding.”
“It is now about making a difference, without suddenly so much commitment from NATO that the Russians could switch to the use of a nuclear weapon, which is still being taken into account,” says Ten Broeke.
Route: The Netherlands will deliver the Patriots
The Netherlands has no tanks and therefore cannot supply them, but Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday during a visit to the White House that the Netherlands wants to participate in the initiative of Germany and the United States to send a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine. He said that to US President Joe Biden.
“Germany, America and the Netherlands are the NATO countries that have a very specific Patriot system. They are Patriots that can shoot down both planes and missiles,” says Ten Broeke.
According to him, Ukraine has a great need for this. “We see that the heavy missiles being launched from Russia are not only intended to cut off the power to the infrastructure, but are now also being fired hard at the civilized world. Therefore, it is necessary that a city like Kiev or Lviv can be protected by a patriotic system. As far as I’m concerned, it should have happened a long time ago.”
“I already argued at this table two years ago that they should be placed as tensions slowly rose on the Russian border. At that point you could still have placed them without an escalating effect. These are sometimes suspected in connection with the deployment of air defenses. Now it is desperately needed.”
World Economic Forum
Rutte is now back on European soil and is today visiting the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Ten Broeke believes that the situation in Ukraine will dominate that congress. “Ukraine also shows our dependence on geopolitics, and this is what Davos is about. For example, there are all kinds of raw materials and minerals that we need because we want to get rid of gas and oil quickly”, because we no longer will be dependent on Russia.
“Gas and oil came from Russia, and we have become very dependent on that. At the same time, we would like to have an energy transition, for which we need many of the scarce raw materials and minerals, for example for wind turbines and electric cars. We have to get those drugs from China.”
Dependence on Russia is decreasing, but that on China is increasing, says Ten Broeke. “These are the tectonic movements that are being discussed at the World Economic Forum, for example, by government leaders, business leaders, academics and non-commissioned officers. By the way, everyone can follow today, because almost every room has a live stream, so we can see it all.”
Allies of Ukraine gather: pressure on Germany for tanks increases
By: Peter Visser