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Germany’s Reluctant Change on Tank Deployment to Ukraine

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By: Abdullah Kamran – Germany’s Reluctant Change on Tank Deployment to Ukraine

The author is CEO at and also works at Fiverr and Upwork.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s recent decision to give more military aid to Ukraine was not a choice he made on his own. Instead, it was a response to growing pressure. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has caused Germany to rethink its beliefs, including the idea that conflicts can’t be solved by force, which was a cornerstone of German history after World War II. “Wandel durch Handel,” which means “change through trade,” was a phrase that was used all over German society. Even though there was a lot of criticism from Europe, the US, and other western countries, Germany supported the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project up until a few days before the invasion.

The events of February 24, 2022, marked a turning point for Germany and its long-standing denial of the true nature of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Previous military atrocities in Syria, the wars in Georgia and eastern Ukraine, and even public crimes, such as the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London or the assassination of a Georgian national in Berlin, did not bring about any significant change in Germany’s behaviour.

Germany has undergone a significant transformation in its stance on providing military aid to Ukraine. The shift from a majority against sending weapons to a majority in favor of it reflects the country’s progress over the past year. Despite this, there is still confusion about the goals and motivations of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is leading the Social Democrat-led government. This is due to the communication style of the government and the lack of clear leadership from Scholz himself. The task of clarifying political positions falls to others,, such as the Social Democratic Party Chairman Lars Klingbeil, who has stated that Germany should be a “leading power.” Scholz, on the other hand, was unassertive in his role as a leader during the recent meeting of Ukraine’s supporters at the US military base in Ramstein, failing to form a western alliance for coordinated tank shipments to Ukraine.

Germany’s recent decision to send tanks to Ukraine has revealed its conflicted stance on being a global power. The country has come a long way in a short period of time, with public opinion shifting from opposition to support of weapons being sent to Ukraine. However, the communication style of the Social Democrat-led government, led by Scholz, has resulted in confusion and mistrust among Germany’s allies. Scholz’s failure to show leadership and forge a western alliance for the shipments of tanks has further damaged the important transatlantic relationship and eroded trust in Berlin, particularly among the Baltic states and Poland who already view Germany as an element of instability.

Scholz’s political manoeuvring reflects the unclear positions of many Germans still trying to navigate the changes around them. Germany’s long-standing anti-American sentiment and romantic view of Russia has made this transition difficult. The genocidal war in Ukraine has forced Germany to confront the reality of its role in the world, and Scholz’s hesitancy could be seen as an attempt to delay decoupling from Russia.

However, Scholz could also be viewed as a moderating force, helping Germany move towards assuming global responsibilities beyond just financial and humanitarian aid. The outcome of this transition remains uncertain, and Scholz has yet to make a clear public statement on the demand for Russia to lose the war in Ukraine.

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