Leaders of dozens of key Commons committees have asked Germany’s defense minister to allow Ukraine to defend itself against an invasion by Russia using German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
Lawmakers intervened after a pledging conference in Germany on Friday ended without a commitment by Western allies to send more battle tanks to Ukraine, despite a call by President Volodymyr Zelensky to speed up the delivery of military support.
The group, which includes the chairmen of 24 key Commons committees and dozens of senior backbenchers, was coordinated by Labour’s Chris Bryant to contact federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius “in a moment of utmost urgency”.
We would urge you, in this moment of extreme urgency, to reconsider your position and allow the Leopard 2 battle tanks – both German-owned and German-built – to be provided to Ukraine
“We are mindful of the very significant efforts made by Germany to support Ukraine, especially over the last twelve months. We understand the historical reasons for reluctance to provide German and German-made tanks,” he wrote, in the letter. Received in a copy of Sun.
“However, we would urge you in a moment of extreme urgency to reconsider your position and allow both German-owned and German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to be provided to Ukraine in the next few days.”
The Foreign Secretary said he wanted “nothing more” than to see Ukrainians armed with German-made tanks.
So far among NATO allies, only the UK has agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in the form of 14 British Army Challenger 2s.
There were expectations that Germany would authorize the release of its battle tanks, which are potentially available in far greater numbers, but at the conclusion of the meeting at the US airbase in Ramstein, Germany, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: “I don’t want M1s. There’s no announcement to be made on the (US Abrams tank), and you’ve heard the German Defense Minister say they haven’t made a decision on the Leopards.
He added that officials were “working hard to meet Ukraine’s requirements for tanks and other armored vehicles”.
On Sunday, Foreign Secretary James Clever was asked on the BBC Sunday with Laura Kuensberg program whether he was disappointed that Germany had not authorized the release of the Leopard 2s.
Mr Cleverly declined to criticize Berlin directly, insisting that, ultimately, “every sovereign government has to decide how they can support Ukrainians as a member of NATO”. .
However, he added that there is nothing he would like more than to see the Ukrainians “equipped with the most up-to-date armored vehicles they can find”.
Also on Sunday, Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Ukraine and said it was a “privilege” to be there to show solidarity with the war-torn country.
The former prime minister, who is facing fresh questions over his personal finances, said Mr Zelensky had invited him to visit Kyiv once again.
Rishi Sunak was “supportive” of his predecessor’s all-but-one visit, Downing Street indicated, after claims it could undermine the prime minister’s authority.
(Tags to translate) Ukraine