Cracks appear among anti-Russia alliance  

January 22, 2023 - 23:22

TEHRAN- Germany's refusal to transfer its advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine has been met with criticism by NATO members.

Nearly a year into the Ukraine conflict, public divisions have appeared among the West over the war and support for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military has said it needs a few hundred of Western-made battle tanks. 

Berlin is under heavy pressure by the U.S. establishment to authorise the delivery of its most advanced tanks to Kyiv.

This is while Washington itself has refused to announce the delivery of its own U.S. Abrams tanks.

German government officials have linked their country's own decision to send Leopard tanks with Washington taking the lead first.

In essence, Berlin has indicated it is waiting for Washington to make the first move. 

Germany's new Defence Minister Boris Pistorius says no decision had yet been made by his government.

"There are good reasons for the delivery, and there are good reasons against it ... all the pros and cons have to be weighed very carefully, and that assessment is explicitly shared by many allies," Pistorius argued.

Germany has also dismissed requests by its NATO allies, who have thousands of German-made tanks to send them to the warzone.

Poland, which does have the Leopard 2 tanks in its possession, has suggested it might send them to Ukraine without seeking Berlin's approval.

But analysts say this would complicate future military cooperation between the two sides.

Ukraine has been calling on NATO and the European Union to supply it with more advanced weapons, despite Russia's warning that this would prolong the war, the suffering of Ukrainians as well as represent a significantly new escalation.

Moscow has also warned NATO that any shipments of advanced weapons will be viewed as a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO members.

Berlin has so far dispatched military assistance to Kyiv, but the delivery of these tanks would represent a new escalation that Russia has been warning about.

If Germany sends its tanks first and nobody else does, this may be viewed by the Kremlin that Berlin is at war with Russia.

It would also make Germany appear as warmonger in this conflict. 

This is something that the German government wants to avoid, especially amid Russian warnings of an escalation if battle tanks are dispatched.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Duma - Russia's lower house of parliament - warned that the United States and NATO support for Ukraine is leading the world to a "terrible war".

He added that "arguments that the nuclear powers have not previously used weapons of mass destruction in local conflicts are untenable. Because these states did not face a situation where there was a threat to the security of their citizens and the territorial integrity of the country."

Last week, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chairman of Russia's powerful security council, said in a social media post that "the defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war ... Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends," 

Ukrainian troops are already being trained on German soil, not by the German military advisors themselves but rather by the U.S. forces that are stationed in the country.

This is while the German public has already been among the worst hit as a consequence of the war.

The taps of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that used to run directly from Russia to Germany before the war have already been mostly switched off as a result of Western sanctions on Moscow.

The German government also does not want to send its tanks because of fears that the Kremlin will respond with further measures by cutting off future supplies of gas and oil. 

Before the war, Germany was heavily dependent on Russian gas following decades of cooperation between the two sides. Europe as a whole relied on Moscow for 40 percent of its gas needs. 

The ensuing fighting has seen an energy crisis in Europe that has spearheaded record inflation rates not seen in several decades.

Christian Molling, the deputy director at the German Council on Foreign Relations, told news media outlets that "careers have been built on the narrative that Germany is a peace-loving nation. The public mood is shifting and possibly at a tipping point, but it would be very hard to be the leader that drove to make Germany a leading player in European security."

Surveys suggest that the German public support for Ukraine is less than in other Western countries. Polls also indicate that Germans are split on the question of sending the German-made battle tanks to the warzone.

Since World War 2, Germany has tried to portray itself as having a position of not taking sides in any wars, but that clearly ended in February last year, when Russia attacked Ukraine. 

Critics say the German supply of chemical weapons to the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to use in his war against Iran is another case in point.

Despite the large-scale delivery of weapons and heavy sanctions, the Russian military is still on the offensive. 

Eleven months into the Ukraine war, and with tens of billions of dollars worth of military assistance to Kyiv, alongside unprecedented sanctions on Russia, appears to have created skepticism in Berlin.

The timing is also key. 

The Kremlin has slammed the United States for its refusal to engage in talks with a view to ending the conflict. That has perhaps made some in Europe think twice.

Divisions in the anti-Russia alliance have only grown more public in recent days. Earlier, Poland described Germany as "the least proactive country out of the group, to put it mildly." 

But the Germans look like they want a quick fix to end the war and not escalate it further on their doorsteps. 

There were expectations that divisions will eventually appear among the U.S.-led NATO military alliance toward the Ukraine war.

The cracks in the anti-Russian bloc's unity have most certainly started to be made public following Germany’s refusal to send dozens of Europe's most advanced tanks to the war. 

The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania (who are under NATO command) made a joint call to Germany to send its main battle tanks to Ukraine, putting further pressure on Berlin to move faster on aiding Kyiv in the war.

"We, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Foreign Ministers, call on Germany to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine now," Estonia's Foreign Minister wrote on social media.

And Pistorius has denied any allegations that Germany is alone in blocking the delivery of tanks to Ukraine. 

The United Kingdom says it is willing to send its Challanger 2 tanks and Poland says its ready to send their German made tanks.

There is certainly a major rift now among NATO , with members trading strong accusations. 

The fact that Washington is refusing to send its own tanks speaks volumes.

How this latest scenario will unfold is the bigger question. 

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