Moscow has slammed Berlin’s move to supply Ukraine with battle tanks and accused Germany of abandoning its “historical responsibility to Russia” arising from Nazi crimes in World War II.
The Russian embassy in Germany said on Wednesday the decision to send 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv and allow allies to re-export the same models would worsen the war in Ukraine and lead to “permanent escalation”.
“This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts the statements of German politicians about the unwillingness of the Federal Republic of Germany to be drawn into it,” Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said.
“It destroys the remnants of mutual trust, causes irreparable damage to the already deplorable state of Russian-German relations, and casts doubt on the possibility of their normalisation in the foreseeable future.”
Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a post on the Telegram messenger app that the German decision confirmed what she said was a “pre-planned war” against Moscow.
Kyiv has for months called for Western tanks, arguing they are desperately needed to give troops firepower and mobility to break through Russian defensive lines and recapture occupied territory in the east and south.
Moscow has repeatedly said Western-supplied tanks will “burn” and dismissed suggestions they will affect the outcome of the 11-month conflict, warning they will only prolong Ukrainian suffering.
Germany’s move is expected to pave the way for Poland, Finland and a host of other European nations to offer Ukraine tanks from their own stocks of Leopard 2s.
“With the approval of the leadership of Germany, battle tanks with German crosses will again be sent to the ‘eastern front’, which will inevitably lead to the deaths of not only Russian soldiers, but also the civilian population,” Nechayev said.
The United Kingdom has already pledged to deliver 14 of its Challenger 2 battle tanks to Kyiv, while the United States is poised to reverse course and supply Ukraine with more than 30 of its own M1 Abrams.