The French press on Tuesday (24) analyzes the hesitant position of Germany’s head of government, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, to authorize sending German-made heavy tanks to Ukraine. Leopard 2 tanks combine firepower, mobility, and protection. According to experts, this equipment could decide the war.
Poland’s defense minister announced today that he has requested Germany’s permission to deliver German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. On Monday, Warsaw had already stated that regardless of Berlin’s response, it intended to deliver some 14 tanks it owns of this model to the Kiev Army.
The new German Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, promised in an interview with the ZDF TV channel that Berlin will help Ukraine win the war against Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was optimistic about a quick decision regarding these tanks. Stoltenberg stressed that there are no signs that Moscow has changed its goals regarding the conflict.
The French newspaper Le Figaro said in its morning edition that Scholz “pays little heed to the pressure exerted by environmentalist allies.” On Sunday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party said that if Poland, rushing to the aid of Ukraine, asked for Berlin’s approval for the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks, she would be in favor of the request. Yesterday, however, the minister backtracked and aligned herself with the prime minister’s statement.
Despite pressure from Poland, Scholz has said that Germany “will continue to act as it has always done in the past, in consultation with all friends and allies, in the face of each concrete situation.” The point is that Scholz has decided to follow the position of the United States, which considers it premature to send heavy tanks to Ukraine at this time.
According to Le Figaro, Poland’s insistence on defying Russia was seen as “a bluff in some European capitals.” Of twenty countries that have Leopard 2 tanks in their arsenals, only ten would be willing to form a coalition with Warsaw. Finland and the Netherlands, which own about a hundred units of the German-made tank, prefer to wait for Berlin’s green light, reports the French daily.
According to Libération, the German chancellor’s contradictory statements and the friction between the bloc’s leaders have weakened European unity on the issue of military aid to Ukraine.
Les Echos believes that Scholz will give in, convinced of the need for reinforcement repeated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. However, the newspaper criticizes the German Chancellor’s communication, pointing out as “disastrous”.
Recruits abandoned by the Russian Army
While the sending of the tanks is being discussed, Le Monde newspaper publishes the first testimonies of Russians forcibly conscripted in the campaign launched by President Vladimir Putin in order to compensate for massive losses in his Army.
Two recent military defeats, in the Voronej region and the village of Pavlivka, have provoked strong reactions in Russia, including among pro-Kremlin bloggers, Le Monde reports. Two Russian conscripts who survived the carnage told the Russian online newspaper Verstka that out of 540 men sent into combat in Ukraine, only 40 survived after three days of continuous shelling by Ukrainian artillery.
According to the survivors, they received no support from Moscow. Recruited from among the male civilian population, without any previous military experience, they are sent to the front line of battle as cannon fodder.
*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***