Jan 22, 2023 11:21 JST
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told a German newspaper he plans to visit Ukraine soon as Berlin faces pressure to allow German-made tanks to go there.
“For sure, I will go to Ukraine soon. Maybe even within the next four weeks,” Pistorius told Bild am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday.
On Friday, Germany and its Western allies held off on whether Germany would agree to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, or allow other countries with such tanks to do so, despite Ukraine’s plea for Hyundai to bolster its defense efforts.
Asked about the tanks, Pistorius said in an interview: “On this issue, we are having very close conversations with our international partners, starting with the United States.”
German sources told Reuters that if the United States agreed to send its own tanks, they would allow German-made tanks to be sent to Ukraine to help defend Ukraine against Russia. But U.S. officials say President Joe Biden’s administration is not prepared to send its own tanks, including the M1 Abrams.
Pistorius became defense minister last week, months into Germany’s “Zeitenwende” – or a new era of a more assertive foreign policy backed by more military spending – Chancellor Olaf Schulz announced on February 27 , days after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Pistorius also told Bild am Sonntag that his aim is for the German military to play a leading role in the EU.
“Germany is the largest economy in Europe, so having the strongest and best equipped army in the EU should also be our goal,” he told the paper.