Ukraine, Germany reiterates no to fighters: the point on F-16 and sending Leopard tanks

Habeck: “There is a difference between tanks and fighter planes”

The German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, opposes the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine, a move that would likely lead the Western allies one step too far. Habeck was one of the first in his government to advocate supplying Ukraine with German-made Leopard 2 tanks, and he again defended the decision on a talk show last night. However, he said, “there’s a difference between tanks and fighter planes.” The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, meanwhile clarified that there has been no official request from Kiev to Berlin for fighter planes. “We have not yet submitted any requests to Germany on fighters,” Makeiev said.

The head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgenwarned the German government against hastily rejecting arms requests from Kiev. “We constantly exclude something that we are ready to do later. This makes us unreliable,” he told German group Bayern newspapers.

“This haste to say no should stop, it’s harmful,” he continued, advising us to change perspective and evaluate what is possible and makes sense in terms of international, political and military law.

Regarding the debate over whether Germany, having recently promised to supply Ukraine with its Leopards, also send fighter planes, Heusgen said: “As regards the planes, their delivery is legitimate under the 51 of the Charter of the United Nations”.

Sending fighter planes to Ukraine would not make Germany an active part in the war, added Heusgen, according to whom “if we still have Russian planes from the times of the GDR usable by Ukrainian pilots, I would say that obviously we should make them available of Ukraine,” he said. However, the current debate is about US-made F-16 fighters, “which Germany doesn’t have,” he noted.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the West to supply fighter jets to Ukraine, after only France so far has not ruled out responding positively to Kiev’s requests. Rishi Sunak’s GB government has ruled out sending fighter jets and so has Joe Biden.

In Washington to meet US politicians to discuss support for Ukraine, Johnson stressed that Volodymir Zelensky must be given all the support he needs. “All I will say is that every time we said it would be a mistake to supply such and such a weapon system, we end up changing our minds and doing the right thing for Ukraine. I remember being told that it was wrong to give them shoulder-mounted anti-tank missiles. That they were instead indispensable for countering the Russian tanks in battle. Then it was said that the Himars should not have been sent as they proved to be indispensable for the Ukrainians and the same happened for the tanks,” he told Fox News.

There Spain meanwhile plans to send between 4 and 6 Leopard 2A4 tanks to Kiev. This was reported by El Pais, citing government sources according to which the final figure will depend on the condition of the 53 tanks stored for a decade at the Logistical Support Group number 41 in Zaragoza, whose urgent restoration is under negotiation between the Ministry of Defense and the military industry, and by contributions from other countries.