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Scholz’s hesitation has done real damage

The Leopard 2: precision German engineering

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz seems to “expect applause”, says Stefan Kornelius in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Not only has he finally authorised German-made Leopard 2 tanks to be shipped to Ukraine after weeks of foot-dragging, his dithering has also forced Joe Biden to send 31 of America’s Abrams vehicles. But his “hesitant and non-transparent attitude” has inflicted real damage. At home, opponents of new military aid for Ukraine are already “shouting treason”, accusing Scholz of rolling over and appeasing US warmongering. Advocates, meanwhile, are slamming the Chancellor for lacking the courage to act “independently and thus confidently” before his hand was forced, and questioning whether he’s truly interested in Ukraine’s victory.

Most importantly, Scholz’s indecision has “consolidated the mistrust” of Berlin’s Western allies. Germany is Europe’s “primus inter pares by size and economic performance”, and yet it has been left to the UK, France and even Poland to rouse support for the Ukrainian cause. US officials are rightly angered that they’ve been forced to donate much less useful military equipment “to lure Scholz out of his corner”, because they understand “every day costs hundreds of Ukrainian lives”. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin can sit back and enjoy a “moment of satisfaction” as the cracks in Western unity begin to appear. Scholz must stop wasting time and fully commit Germany’s resources to ensure Putin’s defeat, as other Western countries are willing to. “Otherwise, this war will not end.”