Germany’s reluctance in supplying Ukraine with the much-demanded Leopard 2 tanks amid the raging Russia-Ukraine conflict has prompted protests in Berlin. A crowd of several thousand protesters consisting of both Ukrainians living in Germany and Germans gathered outside Berlin’s Bundestag building in a show of anger towards the German government’s refusal to supply Kyiv’s forces with the Leopard 2 tanks, Ukrainska Pravada reported.
Several protesters have reportedly been sighted with “Free the Leopards!” posters, demanding the German government to supply the tanks to Ukrainian forces. The latest development comes following a 50-nation meeting at Germany’s Ramstein airbase Friday where Ukraine’s allies failed to convince Germany to permit the supply of the much-needed tanks for deployment on the frontlines by Ukrainian forces amid war with Russia.
Germany’s inaction ‘may cost lives’
Berlin’s refusal to authorize the re-export of the Leopard 2s to Ukraine not only prompted anger back home but also invited a warning from Poland that Germany’s hesitation could cost lives amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict which is nearing a year’s completion.
European countries and the US hoped that Berlin would allow the re-export of the tanks from nations like Poland and Finland, if not supply them from its own stocks. However, following the Ramstein meeting, Germany’s newly appointed Defence Minister Boris Pistorius stated that no final decision had been taken regarding the Leopards, the Guardian reported.
However, the German Defense Minister asked his ministry to “undertake an examination of the stocks” of the tanks available. Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau tweeted following the meeting, “Arming Ukraine, in order to repel the Russian aggression, is not some kind of decision-making exercise. Ukrainian blood is shed for real. This is the price of hesitation over Leopard deliveries. We need action, now.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the US joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said, “This year, it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine,” the Guardian reported. Prior to the Ramstein airbase meeting, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was waiting for a “decision from one European capital that will activate the prepared chains of cooperation on tanks”.
Meanwhile, Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has expressed optimism saying that he was still “convinced that coalition-building will end in success,” with regards to support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion.