Expert: Scholz shortsighted in dragging out Ukraine tanks decision

Rainer Saks.
Rainer Saks. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Germany dragging its feet over deciding whether to provide Ukraine with main battle tanks is shortsighted and harmful in the strategic dimension, security expert Rainer Saks found on Vikerraadio on Tuesday.

Several countries, including Poland, are urging Berlin to allow other European states to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks. The country has the final say on whether these tanks can be made available to Ukraine.

Germany's stalling first and foremost comes off unfortunate from the point of view of strategic communication, Saks remarked. "Whether the tanks take a few extra weeks to reach Ukraine is not the most important thing presently. What matters is making the decision."

Saks believes Germany will eventually decide in Ukraine's favor, allowing it to launch new plans and preparations for new military capabilities.

The expert emphasized that Ukraine has no shortage of troops. The mobilization has been ongoing since the start of the war. However, Ukraine is short on armor. The country is using Soviet-era tanks of which it does not have enough for a major offensive. What is more, Western alternatives have combined arms capabilities and sport much more effective weapons systems.

"Therefore, the damage has been done in the major strategic dimension, which has allowed Russia to drag out the war, continue and escalate matters. A shortsighted course by Germany to be sure," Saks suggested.

He said that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz taking his time with the decision boils down to in-house lobbying in the Social Democratic Party as opposed to external factors.

"This lobby has always been there in SPD. It is visible in other parties, least so in the Greens that is the German party least affected by Russian business ties. But it has traditionally been more prominent in SPD. The chancellor perhaps lacks character to just override this lobby," he added.

Recent reports from the war suggest Vladimir Putin has ordered the new commander of the Ukraine operation Gen. Valery Gerasimov to take the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by March. Saks said that Gerasimov being put in charge shows that some changes are being made.

"It is bound to change aspects of planning and execution. Gerasimov has a different style than Surovikin, even though the latter will still be involved under Gerasimov. The emphasis is now on improving leadership and command. Ineffective command has been the Russians' biggest problem so far," Saks said, adding that battleground information reaching commanders has been a problem until now.


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Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Marcus Turovski

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