Ukraine's brilliant and hugely successful offensive in Kharkiv Oblast has made a number of things clear. The Ukrainians have shown that they are capable of reclaiming large parts of their territory from the hands of the Russian occupiers. They have also demonstrated over the past few weeks that they have learned how to use new western weapon systems very quickly and have successfully integrated them into their combat tactics.
And they have exposed how vulnerable, decimated and exhausted the remnants of the Russian army are. And that it is indeed within the realm of possibility to retake all of the territories occupied by Russia.
The Ukrainians have also taught a lesson to those in the West who are reluctant to supply more weapon systems: this war can only end in Russia's defeat. And whoever refuses to equip the Ukrainians with the necessary weapons for victory only prolongs this conflict. Such failure to provide aid will only lead to more suffering for Ukrainians - those heroically defending their country and those who continue to face Russian torture and terror in the occupied territories. And with our attitude of denial we are also prolonging the agony of our own economy, because in all likelihood current energy prices will only normalize after the end of the war.
The refusal of the federal government to deliver tanks and armored personnel carriers is becoming more and more nonsensical. Because they are urgently needed for offensive measures. But it also makes sense in the long term: After the war, Ukraine will still have to defend itself against Russian attacks and will have to rely on Western systems because the old Soviet ones are becoming increasingly rare, as has been shown in recent months. And as for tanks, the German Leopard tanks are the logical alternative for Ukraine.
It is therefore high time that Germany not only expresses its claim to leadership in words, as Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) has done recently, but also in deeds. This does not mean that Germany has to go it alone when it comes to western tank deliveries. The European Council on Foreign Relations, for example, has just suggested forming a Leopard 2 consortium under German leadership. A total of 13 European countries use these tanks. They could join forces and jointly provide Ukraine with a pool of vehicles and spare parts so that each country would only hand over a manageable number of tanks that would be bearable for its own defense.
It is important that the federal government moves quickly on this issue and finally takes the lead. Because with its constant blockade and delaying tactics, the Scholz government has given the impression, not only in Eastern Europe, that it is not really interested in a victory for Ukraine. In the end, actions count, not just cheap words.
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