The German federal government has finally decided to send its Leopard tanks to help Ukraine in the fight against Russia, which launched an invasion of the country on February 24. Thus, the supply of these tanks will also be allowed by other European countries, which required the approval of Germany as a manufacturing country.

As we progress Der SpiegelBerlin finally made this decision after several weeks of pressure from European allies, led by Poland, who insisted on the urgency of these deliveries. It was decided that the US would also send Abrams. Berlin would send a company (nine to 14 vehicles) of Leopard 2A6s.

Poland showed a willingness to lead a coalition with those countries that also wanted to send Leopard 2, not counting on Germany. Finally, the federal government urged Warsaw to apply for the permit, which it did on Monday.

The Leopard 2 is the most common frontline battle tank among European armies. Made in Germany, they were designed to withstand the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries. In addition to Germany, a significant amount of Leopard 2 is available in 13 other European countries. Ukraine has been demanding this tank since March last year, which is distinguished by its mobility, firepower and accuracy. It is also cheaper to maintain and refuel than the American Abrams.

For the coalition government led by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, this issue became an internal problem, since its partners, the Greens and the Liberals (FDP), were clearly in favor. Vice Chancellor Robert Habek said last week that Germany was not going to stop other countries from supplying Leopard 2s to Ukraine. More clear was Foreign Minister Annalene Burbock, who told French channel LCI on Sunday evening that she had clearly said that Berlin “won’t oppose this.”

However, the SPD resisted, fearing that Russia would perceive this gesture as an escalation. The Social Democrats are very close to ospolitics, the policy of the outstretched hand to the East of the post-Cold War period. Both in the collective unconscious and in the mind, the image of the Second World War weighs, when German tanks fought against the Soviets. Therefore, historian Timothy Garton Ash wrote in an article in Guardian: “The lesson to be remembered by the Germans is not that the Germans should not use their tanks against Russia, but that they should do so to protect the Ukrainians, who are among the great victims of Hitler and Stalin.”

In addition, on Tuesday, several American media such as Washington Post and Wall Street JournalThey claimed that the US also decided to send its powerful Abrams tanks to Ukraine. Germany has so far denied that its decision depends on the decision of the United States, although it emphasized the need for a common agreement of allies in support of Ukraine. It was important to Chancellor Scholz that the dispatch of battle tanks should not be an isolated action, but coordinated by the Allies.

Scholz and US President Joe Biden discussed the issue in a January 17 telephone conversation. Biden was in favor of giving the Abrams to Kyiv, but the Pentagon did not see this so clearly, according to Wall Street Magazine. Finally, Germany will participate in deliveries with a reduced number of Leopard 2s, but give the go-ahead to those who want to give Kyiv what was the jewel in the crown of the Bundeswehr.

The British were the first to offer their heavy battle tanks, who will provide the Ukrainians with 14 Challengers. Poland, which is undergoing a complete modernization of its armed forces, has provided at least one Leopard 2, and Finland and Denmark have also been supportive. Last May, Spain offered about 40 Leopard 2s, but in the end, Defense Minister Margarita Robles had to admit that they were outdated and no good.

Kyiv demanded about 300 Leopard 2s, but with over a hundred he could already begin to play a decisive role on the battlefield. Western technology is more accurate. Until now, both Ukraine and Russia had Soviet-made tanks.

After a stalemate during these winter months, Ukraine is preparing a counteroffensive to try to retake Ukrainian territory, while Russia is mobilizing troops for its own operations.