Status: 07/25/2022 3:01 p.m.
Ukraine has confirmed that three German Gepard tanks have been delivered – twelve will follow. Due to ring exchange problems, requests for direct deliveries to Ukraine are increasing.
According to Ukrainian data, the first shipment of Gepard anti-aircraft tanks arrived from Germany. “The first three cheetahs officially arrived today,” Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told Ukrainian television. Several tens of thousands of photos were also handed over. Tanks are to be used in Ukraine to protect cities and other so-called critical infrastructure.
The German arms industry wanted to start delivering Gepard anti-aircraft tanks by the end of the month – but initially there was still a lack of ammunition. About two weeks ago the “Spiegel” reported citing government circles that the Chancellery, together with the Ministry of Defense of Norway, found a manufacturer capable of long-term delivery.
Iris-T should not be delivered before the fall
Twelve other Gepard tanks are expected. The delivery is based on an agreement with Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht in May. In addition to Cheetahs, Ukraine is mainly waiting for modern Iris-T anti-aircraft systems from Germany. These should better protect the country from Russian missile attacks. However, the Iris-T should not arrive before the fall.
Meanwhile, in Germany, debate continues over whether Germany could supply tanks directly to Ukraine due to problems with the so-called ring swap. In the procedure for exchanging rings, Ukraine’s eastern allies must provide easy-to-use Soviet-designed tanks. In return, Germany promised its NATO partners modern replacement equipment. However, Poland has repeatedly accused the federal government of not keeping its promises. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt admitted over the weekend that the strategy was not working as expected.
Dropshipping finds more defenders
Politicians from several parties have come out in favor of direct arms deliveries. FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai said on Deutschlandfunk: “If the Ministry of Defense comes to the conclusion that the exchange of rings does not work, that is a way from my point of view of saying yes, then it will be delivered directly.” It’s about concrete support for Ukraine in a crucial phase of the war, and it’s also about Germany’s reputation as a NATO partner, Djir-Sarai said.
His party colleague, Defense Committee Chair Agnès Strack-Zimmermann, had already come out in favor of direct arms deliveries and said that the Leopard 2 main battle tank should also be delivered if necessary.
According to the Union faction’s foreign policy spokesman, Jürgen Hardt, Germany should consider direct deliveries of main battle tanks to Ukraine. In response to a corresponding question, the CDU politician said in SWR,”that we should all consider these options and that Germany should act quickly now”.
Goering-Eckardt asked the government this weekend to look for other ways to support Ukraine with weapons. “For example, to deliver weapons directly, if we can,” she told Editorial Network Germany.