Germany’s “dithering and inaction” since the Russian invasion of Ukraine is prompting other European states to question its value as an ally, the Polish prime minister has said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine.
While Berlin has pledged at least €1.2 billion worth of military aid — more in absolute terms than any other country except the United States, Britain and Poland — Kyiv and some of its more gung-ho backers are dissatisfied with the slow pace of deliveries.
In recent days Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, has made a renewed appeal for modern German main battle tanks. The prime ministers of the three Baltic states said that, as Europe’s largest economy, Germany had a responsibility to step up its support.
At the weekend Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish leader, gave the most scathing assessment, saying Germany had vacillated over “basic decisions”.
“The position of the Germans, above all in the first months of the war, was very disappointing,” he told Der Spiegel magazine. “It was disappointing that the Germans realised their energy policy failures so late.
“Putin uses pipelines as weapons: for him, energy policy is an instrument for waging war. Ukraine has beaten back the enemy more swiftly than the Germans have made decisions.”
Joe Biden’s new ambassador in Berlin has urged Olaf Scholz’s government to “take more of a leadership role”, as calls grow for Germany to support Ukraine’s advances in the north-east by delivering tanks.
After praising Germany’s military and financial support for Kyiv, US ambassador Amy Guttmann told broadcaster ZDF “my expectations for Germany are higher”.
“We have to do even more”, she added. “We are defending our own prosperity, our own democracy when we support Ukraine. My impression is that Germany wants to take more of a leadership role, and we hope that it will fulfil that.”
Previously, Berlin’s argument against delivering tanks to Ukraine has been that such a step would have to take place in coordination with other western Nato partners and Germany could not go its own way. In her interview however, Gutmann, appeared to support Berlin taking the lead on the issue.