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Germany says ‘competition’ to arm Ukraine will harm unity of allies

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, February 8, 2023.(Photo by Reuters)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says sending more and better weapons to Ukraine could damage the unity between the allies, criticizing the competition among some countries to supply Kiev with more arms.

"We preserve and strengthen this cohesion by first preparing decisions confidentially - and only then communicating them," Scholz told the Bundestag lower house of parliament Wednesday, according to a manuscript of his speech, citing his cooperation with US President Joe Biden on the decision to supply tanks to Ukraine.

"What harms our unity is a public competition to outdo each other along the lines of: battle tanks, submarines, aircraft - who is asking for more?" 

Scholz said Germany would not participate in such debates, as they would only benefit Russian President Vladimir Putin, who could use such disputes to divide Ukraine's allies.

For this reason, he has called for greater coherence both within the German government coalition and among Western allies in deciding whether to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine.

Germany itself has been under immense pressure from NATO allies to green light the delivery of its Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Initially, Berlin resisted the calls and hinged its decision on the US providing Kiev with its own battle tanks. 

In January, Scholz said Berlin would send a company of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The German leader further said Berlin would authorize other countries that have their own stocks of Leopard 2 tanks to export them to Ukraine.

Days after Scholz's decision, President Putin said in a fiery speech that Russia would definitely defeat Ukraine. "Again and again we have to repel the aggression of the collective West. It's incredible but it's a fact: we are again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on them."

In a report on Tuesday, German news website Spiegel Online said that the German government's security council had approved delivering 178 Leopard 1 tanks to Kiev from industry stocks.

Russia launched what it calls "a special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over the perceived threat of the ex-Soviet republic joining NATO. Since then, the United States and Ukraine's other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars' worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.

Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. The Kremlin has said the sanctions and the Western military assistance will only prolong the war. 

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