‘Germany’s white elephants’ Scholz torn apart as ‘complex’ tanks may be USELESS to Ukraine

Ukraine: Oliver Dowdon hits out at France and Germany

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German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said the government, which is also racing to reduce its heavy reliance on imported Russian energy, had approved the delivery of Gepard tanks equipped with anti-aircraft guns from the stocks of company KMW on Monday.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said he welcomed Germany’s decision to “send 50 Cheetah systems”.

“Those systems will provide real capability for Ukraine,” he said after talks with Lambrecht and dozens of their counterparts at the US Ramstein Air Base in western Germany.

But military experts are warning the tanks require months of training risking proving useless to Ukrainian forces for at least five more months.

Markus Richter, staff sergeant of the reserve in the German army who served as a commander of a Gepard, told Politico: “I am surprised that the government chose to deliver such a highly complex weapon system, instead of Marder or Leopard tanks, which are less complicated to operate and maintain.

“I can judge from my own experience that training for [Gepard] takes a lot of time.

“In the case of Gepard systems delivered to Romania, full training took five months.” He pointed to inconsistencies in the government’s argument, with Berlin claiming the Marder “could not be delivered because, among other things, training would take too much time.”

The move also sparked the fury of CDU foreign policy MP Roderich Kiesewetter, who said: “Since the German government obviously trusts the Ukrainian armed forces to learn complex Western systems very quickly, less complicated systems such as the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, Leopard main battle tank or artillery systems should also be made available.”

In the EU, Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda also urged German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to supply Ukraine with Leopard battle tanks, adding that Germany should speed up the delivery of weapons to Kyiv.

“I am not in the position of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. I can only say what I would do in his place: I would deliver tanks,” Mr Nauseda was quoted by Funke media group as saying on Wednesday.

Mr Nauseda said Germany was going in the right direction but if it wants to be consistent, it could not stop halfway.

“It is extremely important that Ukraine gets the military equipment it needs now. Not tomorrow or the day after then it could be too late,” he added.

The head of the NATO member state called on the alliance to transition from air surveillance to air defence, saying the Ukraine war showed the importance of air defence capability.

“With airspace surveillance, our pilots can currently only gather information about airspace violations. But there are no orders to shoot down enemy military jets in an emergency,” he said.

Critics, including Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, have accused Berlin of dragging its heels on giving heavy weapons to Ukraine and on other measures that could help Kyiv repel Russian forces, such as an embargo on Russian energy imports.

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They say Berlin is not showing the leadership expected of a major power and that its hesitations – amid concerns over the economic impact in Germany of barring supplies of Russian gas – are costing Ukrainian lives.

Ukrainian pleas for heavy weapons have intensified since Moscow shifted its offensive to the eastern region of Donbas, seen as better suited for tank battles than the areas around the capital Kyiv where much of the earlier fighting took place.

Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine, now entering a third month, as a “special military operation” that aims to degrade the military capabilities of its southern neighbour and root out what it calls dangerous nationalists.

Ukraine and its Western supporters call this a false pretext for an unprovoked war to seize territory. Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

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