Germany’s defense minister on Thursday said she is not ruling out the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but stressed no decision has been made yet.
One should not rule out anything but “there is no decision in the federal government to give up battle tanks. This decision has not been made. And that's why this question doesn't arise," Christine Lambrecht told journalists in the eastern town of Marienberg where she visited German soldiers of the VJTF NATO Rapid Reaction Force.
Her remarks followed statements by Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck who said his country should not hinder Poland's planned delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
"And accordingly, Germany should not stand in the way when other countries make decisions to support Ukraine, regardless of what decision Germany makes," German Press Agency (dpa) quoted Habeck as saying at a meeting of the Greens parliamentary group in Berlin.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said earlier this week his country had already made the decision to provide Ukrainians with Leopard battle tanks.
Germany plays a key role in the debate because the Leopard 2 tanks were manufactured in Germany. As a rule, the transfer of armaments from German production to third parties must be approved by Berlin.
On Wednesday, a German government spokesman said it was unlikely that Berlin would change its position on the delivery of combat tanks to Ukraine ahead of next week’s talks on military aid to the East European country.
An expectation that there would be a change in Berlin's stance before the meeting was "not very likely," Steffen Hebestreit told media representatives in Berlin.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far refused to supply Leopard 2 combat tanks on the grounds that no other NATO country has made such tanks available.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has invited members of the so-called Ukraine Contact Group to a meeting at the US Ramstein Air Force Base in southwestern Germany on Jan. 20.