German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made the shocking admission in an interview with CNN. She disclosed to the outlet's Christine Amanpour that some of the Leopard 1 tanks sent to Kyiv are outdated and "not really functioning." Baerbock's response followed the journalist's questions as to why Berlin has rejected requests to supply Kyiv with Taurus long-range missiles.
"We have to be clear on every detail – how does it work, who can actually operate them," said Baerbock. "Yes, it takes some time. I totally understand there is not enough time in Ukraine – but when we deliver it, it has to work."
According to the German foreign minister, earlier weapons systems have not been effective and have even proved to be faulty at times. Following this logic, there should be no rush to provide Ukraine with additional weapons – more so with sophisticated missile systems.
Ukrainian operators have been rushed through hasty training programs, leading to problems that eventually become worse. These problems arise when Ukrainian troops don't spend enough time learning the intricacies of these weapons systems. Aside from operators, assistance and support crews also need to be caught up to speed.
Baerbock ultimately rationalized the poor condition of Germany's military equipment by claiming that Europe has not been confronted "with a brutal war lately." (Related: German foreign minister admits country is at war with Russia.)
It is interesting to note that Berlin was among the first governments to declare that it wouldn't interfere with Eastern European countries that wished to transfer German-made tanks to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russian media outlets have shown multiple instances of Leopard tanks being destroyed and burnt. Alongside this, Moscow has emphasized the "victory" of Russian tanks against those supplied by the West.
Even Kyiv has turned down Leopard tanks due to their unsatisfactory technical condition. A Sept. 20 report by Remix News expounded on this issue, noting that Ukraine rejected 10 units of the Leopard 1 tanks. "The Leopard 1 tanks Ukraine is receiving in larger batches are inferior to Leopard 2 tanks, which are also in Ukraine’s arsenal but in far fewer numbers," the outlet stated.
The report cited the German magazine Der Spiegel, saying that Ukraine has informed the special command under the German Ministry of Defense (BMVg) regarding this predicament. Kyiv remarked that weapons systems from Berlin that arrived in Poland need to be repaired. But given the lack of spare parts and necessary technical personnel to conduct the repairs, "there is no point in sending the Leopards to Ukraine."
Der Spiegel noted that the statement from Kyiv has "raised concerns" in Berlin, The BMVg then urgently sent specialists in Poland to service the tanks. Upon checking, it turned out that the tanks were indeed in need of repairs – proving Ukraine's concerns right.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius earlier promised to increase deliveries of repaired Leopard 1A5 tanks to Ukraine beginning in July. "By the end of the year, there will be more than 100 of them," he said.
But Ralf Thiele, president of the German Military-Political Society, begged to differ. He called the Leopard 1 tanks delivered to Ukraine as "scrap metal" and advised against further deliveries. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement that the Leopard tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles sent to Ukraine were "burning beautifully."
Head over to MilitaryTechnology.news for more stories about tanks and other military aid sent to Ukraine.
Watch this Hindustan Times report about Russian forces taking out a Leopard tank operated by a German crew.
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