German Greens on the Warpath

By Conor Gallagher

With outside pressure from the US and other European states growing, on Sunday German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his new defense minister Boris Pistorius continued to slow-walk the decision on allowing German-made Leopard tanks to be sent to Ukraine.

But then foreign minister Annalena Baerbock during an interview with French television station LCI, said that  “if we were asked, we would not stand in the way.” The interviewer double checked, to which Baerbock confidently replied, “you understood me well.”

Now Berlin is trying to walk back Baerbock’s statement with government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit saying that any Polish request regarding the re-export of tanks would be subject to “standard procedure” and would go through Germany’s Federal Security Council, a body that deals with arms exports.

Poland is already following Baerbock’s lead and seeking Berlin’s permission to send the German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

“We will seek this approval,” Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters on Monday. “Even if we didn’t get such an approval in the end, we will give our tanks to Ukraine anyway — within a small coalition of countries, even if Germany isn’t in that coalition”, Morawiecki said.

Baerbock’s comments also opened up divisions in the German coalition:

Scholz is facing heavy pressure from the US and others to relent on the tanks:

But the German government had wanted the US to send its Abram tanks before it sends any German ones. This led to a meltdown in the empire’s capital. The Washington Post editorial board, in a piece titled Germany is refusing to send tanks to Ukraine. Biden cannot let this stand, advised Biden to bring the vassal state to heel:

[Olaf] Scholz is sacrificing sound strategy on the altar of political calculation by wavering in the face of opposition from some political allies and a segment of the German electorate. It is a misjudgment that cannot stand.

Pesky German electorate. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin apparently had a big blow up in Berlin:

Austin is one of the main opponents of sending Abrams to Ukraine. According to NBC News:

But both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley have recommended against sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the three U.S. officials said.

Milley and Austin have cited how long it takes to train personnel to operate the tanks and how difficult the tanks are to maintain. They also have argued they are not the right vehicles for the fight in Ukraine right now, according to the officials.

One U.S. official said Austin has argued the training to operate and maintain the tanks would take months, and even though the Ukrainians have proven adept at learning many new platforms, he continues to resist sending the Abrams.

Poland already announced earlier this month that it was ready to deliver 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but Warsaw was waiting for a clear statement from Berlin authorizing the transfer. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also said Ukrainian forces were moving ahead with training in Poland to use Leopard 2 battle tanks.

Berlin’s hesitance is understandable. It has already sent advanced air-defense systems, anti-aircraft, multiple-rocket launchers, and plans to send dozens of Marder infantry fighting vehicles. But while the tanks likely won’t make a big difference on the battlefield, there look to be other forces at work:

While the US was frustrated with Scholz dragging his feet, Washington’s woman in Berlin came through. Some background:

One year ago, Olaf Scholz was elected as the ninth German chancellor since World War II, and leads a “traffic-light coalition” of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) — named after the three parties’ signature colors of red, green and yellow.

Scholz, from the SPD, hails from the politics of Wandel durch Handel (“transformation through trade”). It relied on cheap Russian gas imports and exports to its largest trading partner, China. Scholz started his term with attempts (if we take them at face value) to achieve a diplomatic solution with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also defended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline until its demise.

The Greens, on the other hand, are the war-mongering party in Germany, who along with the Americans, have dragged Scholz further into the Ukraine morass. Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from the Greens already said earlier this month that Germany should not stand in the way if Poland decides to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. Baerbock went a step further, which is nothing new for her.

She was the only chancellor candidate during the 2021 election who campaigned against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and she’s consistently been one of the louder voices calling for Berlin to send more heavy weaponry to Kiev. Baerbock is also now calling for the establishment of a special tribunal to bring Putin and his government to trial over the war.

In an interview with Black Agenda Report back before the German election Diana Johnstone, who was press secretary of the Green Group in the European Parliament from 1989 to 1996, had this to say about Baerbock and the Greens:

Frankly, I hope they don’t [win] because they are the most dangerous when it comes to foreign relations. … People who are really on the left in Germany consider [Baerbock] and the German Green Party extremely dangerous. They’re most likely to stumble us into a major war between world powers.

Baerbock, whose introduction to transatlantic governance began with membership in the German Marshall Fund, the World Economic Forum’s Young Leaders Program and the Europe/Transatlantic Board of the Green Party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation, delivered an August speech at the New School in New York that provides insight into her vision for Germany. She describes February 24 (the date Russia began its special military operation) as a date that changed the world and uses it to justify her plans for a rearmed Germany to take on a much more aggressive foreign policy as an equal partner to the US:

For a long time after 1989, security was not an issue of concern for many Europeans and particularly Germans – after the end of the Cold War, my country considered itself finally “surrounded only by friends”. But that perception has definitely changed. Children are asking their parents now at breakfast: Mom, what exactly is a nuclear weapon? Others are saying: I really like NATO. In the mid-1980s, when I was born, millions of Germans who are the grandparents of these children took to the streets to protest against armament. Now, these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children are sitting at the kitchen table debating about armament, or they are marching in the streets in support of Ukraine’s freedom.

And the same holds true for other European countries: Sweden and Finland are leaving behind long traditions of neutrality to join NATO.

In Berlin, Russia’s war has prompted us in the new German Government to re-examine some long-held views on security – and to fundamentally change track in many fields. Thinking without a banister means for us:

Germany has set up a special fund of 100 billion euro to strengthen our military. We have reversed a decades-old arms export paradigm, with Germany now being one of Ukraine’s strongest military and financial backers. And we have expanded our contributions to NATO: We are leading the NATO battle group in Lithuania and are assigning a brigade with up to 800 troops which can be deployed there if required. We are helping to secure the airspace over the Baltic States with our fighter jets – and to protect Slovakia with Patriot air defense.

But we know that we cannot stop here: Our aim is to further strengthen the European pillar of NATO, because we want to have a leadership in European and US partnership. Europe matters – also security-wise, that’s what we saw after February 24th. If that premise is to hold, we have to prove it and see it through in the long term. That means building a more strategic European Union – a Union able to approach the United States at eye level: in a partnership in leadership.

Baerbock is the frequent recipient of glowing media reviews in both the US and Germany like this from the Washington Post, “Germany’s Green foreign minister is taking the lead on Ukraine:”

She did promise more weapons — which, she said, would help Ukraine “free its citizens who are still suffering under the terror of Russian occupation.” That was far more forceful than anything Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said in recent weeks. The war in Ukraine, it turns out, is Baerbock’s fight too — for the chance to become the next German chancellor.

The surprise visit to Kharkiv was Baerbock’s fifth to Ukraine since she took office at the end of 2021. She traveled there for the first time in January 2022. Scholz, by contrast, needed five more months to make it to Kyiv, and only in response to considerable internal and external pressure.

Baerbock has made her intentions clear. Where Scholz is all reluctance and realpolitik, she is positioning herself as a can-do politician with strong principles.

Still, it’s somewhat shocking to see her with the highest approval rating of any of Germany’s main politicians, especially after she told German voters she doesn’t care about the toll her support for Ukraine takes on their lives and the country, which sure enough, it is doing:

This also wouldn’t be the first time that Baerbock undermined Scholz. Ahead of a November trip to China, which had suddenly become controversial in the West, Scholz received public advice from the China hawk Baerbock. Comparing China to Russia, she added that Germany should “no longer be so fundamentally dependent on a country that does not share our values that we can be blackmailed in the end.”

Then, as Scholz was en route to Beijing, Germany’s foreign office released a photo op of a gathering of Baerbock and her G-7 counterparts. Baerbock sits at the head of the table next to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken with Under Secretary of State Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland behind them.  According to former India diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar:

Quintessentially, Baerbock has highlighted her discontent with Scholz’s China visit by assembling around her the like-minded G7 counterparts. Even by norms of coalition politics, this is an excessive gesture. When a country’s top leader is on a visit abroad, a display of dissonance undercuts the diplomacy.

Equally, Baerbock’s G7 counterparts chose not to wait for Scholz’s return home. Apparently, they have a closed mind and the tidings of Scholz’s discussions in Beijing will not change that.

First thing on Monday, Scholz should ask for Baerbeck’s resignation. Better still, [the] latter should submit her resignation.

Neither happened, and Scholz may pay the price. Despite her unsuccessful run in 2021, Baerbock still wants to be chancellor, an outcome the US would no doubt welcome. Elections are not scheduled until 2025, but with the traffic light coalition increasingly on thin ice, she might get her chance sooner rather than later.

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  1. JohnA

    Baerbock, whose introduction to transatlantic governance began with membership in the German Marshall Fund, the World Economic Forum’s Young Leaders Program and the Europe/Transatlantic Board of the Green Party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation.

    Maybe she should actually read some of Heinrich Böll’s books, in particular those set in immediate post war Germany that describe the misery, despair and desperate hunger of the German population, in order to communicate Böll’s message ‘never war again’.
    I fear the German Greens and their Heinrich Böll Foundation are taking his name in vain.

    1. communistmole

      I can still remember Böll demonstrating against the deployment of Pershing II in Germany in the 80s, together with Petra Kelly, a famous Green at the time.
      He would rotate in his grave if he could see what kind of figures abuse his name (another one is Ralf Fücks, former chairman of the Böll Foundation, whose Twitterfeed is a nightmare).

      1. Congold

        When I studied German in High School in late 80’s we were presented with The Green Party and their heroic fight against nuclear power. After hearing that they were infested with Neocons I checked who the idealistic leader of The Green Party was back when I heard about the, That was the mentioned Ralf Fücks. He is working for George Soros promoting hate agaisnt Russia, and support for Neocon wars. Honestly, I expected him to work agaisnt climate change or something considering the state of the world. However, lets be honest. These people were never about the environment. As their opposition to nuclear power shows.

    2. Catchymango

      Unfortunately that is nothing new for the Germans. The SDP’s foundation is named for Rosa Luxemburg, who of course was murdered by goons of said SDP!

      1. Nolan

        The SDP’s foundation is actually appropriately named after Friedrich Ebert, the SDP chancellor who had Luxemburg killed.

        Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung is Die Linke’s foundation.

  2. Thuto

    (S)He who silences the king, is the king.

    In matters pertaining to Ukraine and defense policy, Baerbeck is the de facto chancellor of Germany. When did the greens become the party of globalists and war mongers? And the zeal with which the media cheers on these people should be very concerning for the citizens they’re supposed to be governing, but alas the unprecedented Ukraine war propaganda has turned said citizens brains into mush. It’s clear now that the preponderant ideology of European political elites can be reduced to the determination to do anything (including razing the living standards of ordinary citizens to the ground) to ensure a raging inferno rises forth from the dying embers of US empire. Truly terrifying times we live in.

    1. digi_owl

      Envelopes and promises of high positions in NGOs after leaving German politics?

      Overtaken by US TDS after 2016?

      Sometimes it seems the European center left is so saturated by US social media that they forget what nation they live in and represent.

    2. Kouros

      After the fiasco of 2003 Iraq invasion and war, unsuported by main allies like France, Germany, Canada, etc., the US has launched into changing the leadership structure. A lot of work has been done in picking up and grooming new leaders, that would toe the line. While the eternal Russophobe Brits (that is sheer envy and flailing rabid impotence), Nordics (include here the Dutch), the crazy Balts and the bat-shit crazy Poles don’t need any persuasion, the rest need grooming.

      So you get Annalena, you get Chrystia, and their ilk.

      However, the Americans have forgotten to invest in the real economy. Their snake oil salespeople won’t be able to face reality…

  3. Fazal Majid

    M1 Abrams tanks are extremely maintenance and logistics intensive because of their complex turbine propulsion, that realistically can’t be fielded by the Ukrainians without the US directly entering the conflict.

    The Leopard 2 is much more robust and better indicated for Ukraine: it would require less training time for crews and less heavy logistics the US Army can afford but the Ukrainians can’t. Furthermore, as a successful export model with 3,600 built, there are stocks that can be redeployed, unlike, say, the British Challenger 2 (447 built) or the French AMX Leclerc (862 built, nearly half for the UAE which is having a bromance with Russia).

    1. Fazal Majid

      As for Germany losing its export markets, it’s safe to say they’ve already lost all the Eastern European ones. Most of those countries see the only alternative fighting Russia in Ukraine to be fighting Russia on their own soil later, and thus Germany’s stance is taken as a direct threat to their national security and sovereignty. That’s why Poland is replacing the T-72s it sent to Ukraine (and likely the Leopard 2s) with 980 South Korean made K2 tanks, howitzers and other gear.

      It’s hard to overstate the importance of this decision. The war has reinforced American military dominance over NATO’s Eastern flank and will have long-term repercussions over European defense. France’s longtime efforts to create a European pillar to balance NATO have been killed for at least a generation, more likely two.

      1. JohnA

        Actually, I think the war will ultimately destroy American military dominance because Nato will be seen as an emperor without clothes. US weapons are boondongles designed to make arms companies rich, one of the reasons the US is reluctant to expose its military hardware to a peer competitor. Once the Ukraine regime is crushed, Russia need advance no further, it can say to the EU you have denuded your own defence materiel but we never had any desire to build a Russian empire. Just leave us in peace and when you do restock with weaponry, do not point it in our direction ever again. As for Poland and the yappy Baltic states, a long period of silence from them would be very wise and much appreciated.

        1. Ossa di Morto Spuntini

          Haven’t you heard? NATO is Russia’s real enemy now. Consider the tank issue, is it an issue because the Leopard 2 won’t perform or is it an issue because it is an offensive weapon which outclasses Russian MBTs signaling the EU thinks Ukraine can push Russia back to its borders so decisively, Russia will not even get a chance to drill a core sample of its armor? [The real issue. The export Leopard 2’s armor is public knowledge. The domestic model? Way sexier.]

          Up until now Ukraine has been fighting 2020 Russia with obsolete 1980s gear. The tank debate is one last chance for Russia to think it over because Russia already threw all of its MBTs in. There is no more escalation left. What are all those Mobiks going to use against infrared countermeasures, harsh language?

          This is how it is going to go down: tanks hit the pavement, Gerasimov forwards Ukraine his political rival Prigozhin’s co-ordinates, Wagner is paved over, and the MoD consolidates power. This is how the Kremlin political system works. Shoigu is a political survivor like no other and Prigozhin’s a jailbird fall-guy leading a penal battalion.

          1. Fazal Majid

            Even relatively ancient Soviet RPGs like the RPG-29 Vampir were able to take out M1 Abrams’ reactive Chobham armor during Desert Storm in Iraq. Modern tank tactics require an infantry screen (which is why NATO is also supplying Bradley/Marder/etc APCs). I’m sure Wagner conscripts will be issued liberally with them.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      Respectfully disagree. (I was trained on the M1 at Fort Knox and spent 4 years on active duty with these beasts.)

      The M1 is no harder to maintain than the Leo2. The M1’s turbine engine guzzles more fuel than the Leo2, but it has fewer moving parts and is in many respects easier to fix (and also has the advantage of being able to use gasoline or jet fuel, in addition to diesel). A turbine engine is problematic in a hot dusty environment like Iraq, but not in UKR. Basic tank maintenance (fluid levels, filters, breaking track, cleaning and zeroing the main gun, etc) can be taught in a few days, especially if the trainees have previous experience on other tanks. Any serious maintenance is going to take place far behind enemy lines (same goes for the Leo2), by NATO technicians. German engineers have a well-earned reputation for over-complicating things, so I find it hard to believe that the Leo2 is more robust and simple than the M1. Both tanks date from the late 1970s and share the same basic design (aside from the engine) and electronics and 120mm gun, although the newest M1 (the M1A2) has more hi-tech doodads than the latest Leo2. Oh, and there are far more M1s available out there than Leo2s (10000 or so vs 3500 or so, respectively).

      As for training, the M1’s electronics are complex but are designed for use by semi-educated young men. Firing the main gun (with laser range finder, thermal sight, and computer) is like playing a video game (albeit with sensory overload); a teenager with decent manual dexterity could learn to do it reasonably competently in a few hours (becoming really good at it takes months or years, but that’s true for anything in life).

      I’m not advocating for delivering the M1 (or the Leo2) to UKR. I’m simply pointing out that Milley and Austin et al are wrong to claim that the M1 requires too much training and maintenance vs the Leo2. The reality is that the USA doesn’t want to lose these pricey tanks in an unwinnable war, doesn’t want images of burned-out M1s on the Internet, and doesn’t want RU technicians to get their hands on an intact M1. So they’ll get Mikey to send his tanks instead:

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Good to know, and that being the case it’s also likely that the US would rather any really nasty retaliatory Russian missiles be sent up Germany’s rear end rather than its own.

        1. digi_owl

          And that is likely why Germany is responding very similarly to Poland when USA tied to strike a deal about some MiGs.

      2. digi_owl

        Old man Diesel himself claimed his engine could run on coal dust back in the day.

        I suspect the complication with using anything other than dedicated fuel on them is trying to get the right mixture into the chambers.

        And i do belive those German tanks can have their whole engine remove in the field, requiring only a simple crane and some elbow grease.

      3. hk

        My inclination is that people who are claiming that Western tanks are “too complex” are being wilfully obfuscatory. As you note, the key source of complexity in Western tanks are the electronic gadgetry, but, while they may cause some maintenance issues (but not the routine maintenance) their purpose is to make the tanks easy to operate and for routine maintenance and diagnostics. Also, as you again note, Leo2 and M1 are basically cousins, developed from the joint MBT70 project back in 70s and share enough technology (and NATO equipment generally have quite a lot of common interoperability because of NATO standardization anyways.). Technological excuses for not sending M1’s seem distinctly bogus and the chances are that there’s no good reason that Ukrainian tankmen, IF they still have enough of them left, would not be able to transition to Western tanks with some training and be at least somewhat competent in fairly short time. The bigger question is, in the short term, if tanks, of any kind, in quantities that can be delivered and the timetable, would do any good for Ukrainians (I’m not convinced), and in the long term, what political good will be served by those who actually send them (the big/biggish players seem to have nothing to gain for all manner of reasons, except for short term PR).

        1. Altandmain

          It’s not just electronic components that make Western armor more sophisticated.

          Mechanically, Western tanks are designed to be require more maintenance as well. That’s because the designers made them to operate in a situation where Western maintenance would always be available and of course, to make the military-industrial complex rich.

          There are other considerations. To give an example, the fuel consumption of the M1 Abrams with its gas turbine was built with American logistics in mind. The Russians have T-80 tanks with gas turbines, but they’ve moved away from that with later tank designs. It also makes the tank more easily spotted by infrared sensors.

    3. digi_owl

      Speaking of turbines. It seems potential upgrades for the M1 Abrams include replacing said turbine with a Diesel engine.

      1. Old Jake

        Weight is an issue there, the M1 is already very heavy. A turbine is much lighter than a diesel. Particularly if you want the replacement to sport equivalent power. And the turbine is more flexible in its fuel requirements – though running on pure air is still out of the question.

  4. pjay

    Baerbock. Jacinda Arden. Sanna Marin. All WEF Young Global Leaders, and “progressive” young women who are ardent champions of NATO and its *insane* campaign in Ukraine. Not to mention Chrystia Freeland, who has been rumored to the be next *head* of NATO! There seems to be a pattern here.

    It is gratifying, though, that there are so many role models today for young women aspiring to be warmongers. That’s progress.

    1. tevhatch

      Dick Cheney and Bush Jr. and a host of other male roll models set an example, along with some pioneering feminist like Madeline Albright (she who showed a woman’s roll isn’t to nurture children but to kill them in mass). The principle is clear: duck military service, hide behind your body guards, but learn how to burn bodies as fast as one can.

    2. iread

      Gratifying indeed; the self deception of needing to prove oneself whether conscious or not that stalks so many candidates of identity politics. I lost interest in ‘feminism’ the day they tried to make Germaine Greer’s speech on campus an exclusively female occasion.

    3. pjay

      I can’t help making comparisons with another young, attractive, up-and-coming female politico, Tulsi Gabbard. As a complete unknown she was chosen as a WEF Young Global Leader, sponsored for membership in the Council on Foreign Relations, and given a top position at the Democratic National Committee. Clearly she was being groomed for Great Things. But she refused to follow the War Party script. So she was smeared and memory-holed.

      Whatever you might think of Gabbard, she will always have my respect for that.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      And maybe someday if we really empower women, we’ll be able to see an internet headchopping video perpetrated by a female too. Time to burn those suicide vests, ladies, and take charge!

    5. digi_owl

      We see more and more evidence that women can be just as nasty, if not more so, when it comes to political intrigue.

      Another thing i have noticed recently is media coverage of young ladies eager to put on a uniform for conscription. Almost like they think it will just be some weekend hike in the woods.

      Something odd is going on.

      1. Greg

        You sure that’s not the rotating stock of Kiev based marketing staff that like to put on nice clean uniforms for photo shoots?

        1. digi_owl

          Sorry i should have clarified. This was Norwegian news talking about Norwegian ladies eager to serve their conscription (it was expanded to cover both genders some years back, even as the military mulled that it already had more than enough).

  5. HH

    The tussle over sending tanks is all theater. Without coordinated support from well-trained infantry and air cover, tanks cannot survive on the modern battlefield, and the badly battered Ukrainian armed forces can’t provide that support. 100 Leopard tanks will last about a month in Ukraine. Many will be abandoned because they can’t be repaired in the field. When the Ukraine war ends, the U.S. will have seriously damaged its relationship with Germany by repeatedly humiliating an important “ally” and undermining the German economy.

  6. ddt

    Baerbock is the female, German version of Bolton (not Michael, the other one who threw his hat in the 2024 prez election) sans bushy mustache. Wish both could be placed in the dustbin of history. Alas and if she truly is more popular than Scholtz, Europe is truly screwed.

    1. Old Jake

      Maybe we can send her some stick-on bushy mustaches in the mail, as a sign of our respect for her efforts. Nah, she’d never understand and if she did she’d be proud.

      1. hk

        When you said bushy mustache, I immediately thought of another one, the Austro-German variety who also didn’t win an election but was installed into power through coalitional skullduggery.

  7. Strontium-90

    How about a 1:10 tanks-for-gas swap. One Leopard in exchange for 10 Texas Freeport LNG cargos? With Rheinmetall confirming that 139 Leopard 1/2s could be made available by next year, and with LNG carrying capacity at ~250,000 m3/ship, the swap might cover almost half day of German gas consumption next winter.

  8. Carolinian

    Maybe all that trampoline bouncing scrambled her brains.

    Baerbock is 40 years old, just about a year younger than the Green Party itself. She is the mother of two small children, a former trampoline champion

    Yes, a cheap shot–and proud of it. It could be that those with no qualifications in their field have to be more Catholic than the Pope or more militarist than the generals.

  9. tevhatch

    Forcing new elections could be an own goal for the neo-cons( Baerbock indeed is a ‘new con-artist’) in both Washington and Berlin. Hope is good, as long as you don’t cling to it, but I hope Shultz goofs.

  10. AG

    Febr. 7th there is a German online book presentation about the war path of the Greens.

    „Die Grünen: Von der Protestpartei zum Kriegsakteur“ (The Greens: From Protest Party To War Party)

    by Matthias Rude, apparently 80s born philosophy/religion/leftist guy

    another interesting actor in the background is Armin Nassehi, German formerly left (although he would of course still call himself left) Prof. of Sociology, propagandist and party advisor of the Greens for a couple of years now.

    Nassehi, a popular author of sociological literature, is teaching at Munich University which has produced at least another war-monger from social sciences in the person of Franziska Davies, young scholar in Eastern European Studies, calling for arms, currently tanks, in a few months I assume she will call for fighter airplanes.

    What we are witnessing is the biggest meltdown of so-called German academic and political elites since 1914.

    Complete disregard for the botched Minsk process, the right-wing, ultranationalism that has taken hold of Ukraine´s political “culture” and adminsitrative structure since the 90s, far reaching lack of knowledge about some hard facts about US nuclear war strategy, not to mention prejudice and racism towards all things Russian.

    Some suggestions to what the Greens have forgotten to hate:

    “We Still Need to Ban These 10 Russian Things – Sure, we’ve expelled Russian cats from international competitions and renamed Russian dressing. But there’s so far to go.

    by Jon Schwarz, The Intercept, April 2022

  11. voislav

    A couple of factors are at play here. One, Germany has very few Leopard’s that it can supply. Production of Leopard hulls has stopped years ago, all “new” tanks are old hulls that are equipped with new engines, turrets and electronics. So any tanks Germany supplies cannot be replaced unless hull production is restarted, which will take years.

    Two, the only tanks that can be supplied this year are the tanks that are “operational” within the German Army. German Army has only 312 tanks, but only 200 or so are in usable condition. The rest are under repair/refurbishment, Rheinmetall has 139 in storage, all of which need significant work before they are operational.

    While it’s true that there were about 3,600 Leopard 2s produced, the number of usable tanks is much lower. Turkey has ~350, Greece has ~350, Swiss have ~300, Spain has ~300, Poland has ~250, Chile, Indonesia, Singapore, Austria, Canada, Finland and Sweden have ~100 each. That’s ~2300 of the 3,600, Germany/Rheinmetall have ~500 and there are ~300 with smaller customers (Qatar, Portugal, Denmark, Norway), the rest have been used up as spares hulls or converted to engineering vehicles.

    So, really, what’s available? Spanish ones are in bad shape, they were offered to Peru and rejected because of their condition. Turkey and Greece are not going to give up their tanks. Swiss are unlikely to offer theirs, as are countries like Chile, Indonesia, etc. Poland, Sweden, Finland may give up a few tanks, but they are next to Russia. Austria, Canada and Germany/Rheinmetall are the only viable sources, so that’s maybe 300.

      1. tevhatch

        Just upgrades to existing tank hulls, not even new production, at best it increases the number of tank hulls that are battle fit, but also reduces the number of spares in the boneyard.

    1. Ignacio

      I believe that the delivery of tanks is something more of a way to make Germans and other to compromise with further escalation (Will next be boots in the ground?) rather than real utility of the tanks in the war front. That is it. So this was an important line of resistance that might have made further escalation more difficult and it has been broken. Neocons are always getting their way and we seem on track to WWIII.

      The Germans have pledged to deliver the tanks and this is very bad news for us.

    2. Failed Intellectual (Emeritus)

      The ‘paper strength’ problem is real. In Canada’s case, we have ~20 of the latest Leopard IIs that MIGHT be operational with some hasty maintenance; the rest are older models that sit rusting away in storage or are only useful for training purposes. From conversations with friends in the military (who last served ~5 years ago), the state of readiness of the armoured forces is basically non-existent because of a severe deficit of staff to maintain the things. The Canadian military has been so neglected over the years that it is incapable of sending anything that would remotely be useful to the Ukrainians, no matter how much we would want to.

    3. digi_owl

      That is the basic impression i get. Since the 90s, NATO has basically discarded all its capacity for producing heavier military hardware. And getting that back up and running, in particular when they are cut off from Russian energy, will take years.

      This whole mess seem to hinge on the blob expecting Russia to pull a color revolution out of its ass back in spring, when the first rounds of sanctions were announced. This because they fully trusted expats and the English speaking part of the Russian intelligentsia that the nation was ripe for such an event.

      This while Putin, even at his worst, was polling far better than any US president since FDR. Because that was simply dismissed off hand as falsified data by the think tanks etc. Even Russian elections, that independent observers considered far better organized than US ones, were routinely dismissed as faked.

      Oh, and those Leo2s in Norway are at least in part second hand ones from Holland. And Norway is currently shopping around for replacements. One contender being made by Hyundai in South Korea no less.

      1. AG

        Since you mention South Korea – did the Poles sell the Koreans their own tanks or did the Poles actually BUY those Korean models? I am sort of irritated about who bought what from whom. As stupid European I somehow never looked into Hyundai actually producing arms.

        1. Fazal Majid

          Historically tanks have always been a by-product of the auto industry. The M1 Abrams was made by Chrysler. Obviously the Koreans have a highly competitive auto sector.

      1. AG

        now what?
        go read Lars-Klingbeil-“we got everything under control”´s interview with TAZ:
        go dance, enjoy life, vote SPD.
        It´s all gonna be fine.

        (“Is that a mushroom cloud over there?” -“nah. no mushroom season until September”)

  12. Ignacio

    One thing about this Baerbock person given that Polish are being as anti-German nearly as anti Russian what is she doing going all crazy with the poles on this. Is she an idiot? A traitor?

  13. Susan the other

    This could be the disintegration of NATO. If Baerbock actually gets fired and replaced with a conservative and rational person, and Sweden is blocked, and France gets its billions for a new military, and Poland waffles, and China patiently continues to trade with Germany, and the UK becomes destitute and all its younger workforce leaves the country, and the rest of the world is struggling with a new depression, and etc. then what purpose can NATO serve? War as we have known it, in all its destructive, toxic and very expensive ways is simply over. Literally the only thing left is cooperation.

    1. AG

      that´s what I was thinking too, until last year, January, when this treacherous open letter appeared in DIE ZEIT German weekly, signed by a legion of so-called historians of Eastern European studies calling for arms against Russia.
      It sounded like science fiction to my naive ears back then still pondering on the policy options a new German government would have facing the ongoing – I now call it counterfactually “propaganda”, but I am pissed – of the dangers of climate catastrophe. What else but cooperation could there be? The only question being how do you get them do it the fair way and not via coersion of the poor (with individual CO2 footprint and Corona like surveillance).
      This now is insane. But what is most disturbing is the fact that human beings with actual academic titles and allegedly “studied” minds fall for this shit.
      I am having a look into the Green Party´s house paper, TAZ, and it is just all there in plain sight. The entire madness of idiocracy, neglect and feelings of superiority.
      As if those people really believe that Germany actually became a rich country cos we Germans are so nice. Unlike those Reds in the East who invented war, destruction, fascism, torture, bombs and best of all: suicide drones.

  14. Sausage Factory

    Germany set to lose more of its GDP than a Russia with 11000 sanctions placed on it! Looks like the Americans want to destroy Germany not Russia. All competiton must go down. The Germans are just sitting there and taking it, utter humiliation (on top of the US destroying Nordstream 1 & 2) Baerbock is a lover of Nazism, her grandfather was in the SS and she is very proud of him for defending Germany from the Russians (?) I kid you not, she actually said this several years ago at some kind of Auschwitz memorial, inexperienced and out of her depth but learns quickly, like Ukrainian nazis on their new weapons platforms. The end result will be the same for her as it has been for the Ukrainians. Shame about Germany though, they were the engine of Europe so we can look forward to the collapse of he EU as a viable entity (or it will just morph into some kind of authoritarian totalitariansuper state)

  15. Jim Dingeman

    Interesting discussion on the tank issue.

    The tank issue has been in shopping lists from the Ukranian military since the war began. There is no doubt that the Russians are re-organizing and learning from their earlier mistakes. They are going back to a division structure for their forces. We have only vague reports of additional force structure being created in the open sources. But if they are true, we should see an increasing ability of Russia with new and better trained formations to exert and implement concentric offensives arount the vast front where the horrific fighting continues. This could include a serious thrust through Belarus to sever the strategic lines of communications with NATO through rail and surface routes.

    The desire and moves to send Leopard 2’s ( various variants but probably mainly A4’s) and M-1 Abrams should be seen in that light. We have no reliable numbers as to the ebb and flow of the balance of forces vis a vis casualties, equipment losses and reinforcements but it is clear that the war of attrition is taking its terrible tool on all. The Bakhmut fighting is a prime example of this and looking at the open source maps the Ukranians have deployed key formations to fight this battle.

    Another aspect is the replication in this war of the 1915 shell shortage. We see how all the powers involved have ramped up production of artillery shells of varying types. The US is reportedly aiming to achieve a 500% increase and the same could be seen for Russia.

    There was also a report that Ukraine is seeking to create an armored division. If such a formation would be supplied with NATO armor one can be sure that there will be a well thought logistical plan to keep those machines in action. Whether it works or not is another story.

    The discussion on the internal politics of each country in Europe is important and how that relates to the wider impact of this conflict are key. When we discuss these issues in the United States those questions seem to me the most serious to clarify. Thanks for the insights into German politics.

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