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Leopard: Is Germany becoming a belligerent by sending tanks to Ukraine?


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Germany with a historic decision sends Leopard 2 to Ukraine. Experts in international law estimate that it does not enter the war by sending heavy tanks

Immediately after the German government’s announcement of sending Leopard 2 heavy tanks to support the Ukrainian army came the Kremlin’s response through its spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday via the Interfax news agency: “Everything that the Western alliance and the capitals in Europe and USA is perceived by Moscow as directly involved in the war”.

What does the UN Charter provide?

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Everything that Moscow blames on the West is what Chancellor Olaf Solz has long wanted to avoid. “We must not be led to a NATO-Russia war,” the German chancellor said, stressing that Germany will in no way become a war party.

Experts in international law agree with Olaf Solz. According to the UN Charter, each member country must refrain from any threat to use force against the territorial integrity and independence of another member country. By invading Ukraine in February 2022, Russia violated this very rule. According to the Charter in such a case every country has the right to defend itself, individually or collectively.

Sending heavy weapons is legal

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This also means that third countries can supply the country under attack with weapons or launch training missions. No distinction is made regarding the type of heavy weapons. In fact, according to the internationalist Markus Krajewski from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, it would even be legal to send armed forces from other countries to Ukraine. “Every attack launched by Russia in Ukraine is a continuation of the violation of international law. Russia will only behave in accordance with international law if it withdraws its troops from outside Ukrainian borders.”

But something like that does not appear at the moment. On the contrary, experts in international law, such as Roderich Kieseweter from the Christian Democrats, expect a new major attack by the Russians in the spring. As he told DW, “Russia used the winter to promote the recruitment and training of Russian soldiers and to boost ammunition supplies. Ukraine has not yet managed to cover the material losses it has suffered.” Kieseweter considers it necessary, therefore, to switch to western-type chariot models.

Interpreting the Burbock Statement

In the meantime, last Tuesday German Foreign Minister Analena Burbock called for more cohesion among the Western allies, even declaring before the Council of Europe in Strasbourg: “We are fighting a battle against Russia, not against each other.” Russian state media used this statement as a centerpiece of their war propaganda – as proof that Germany and other EU countries are directly involved in the war on the side of Ukraine and are fighting against Russia.

And the US Foreign Office however interpreted Burbock’s statement after questions from various media and social media, noting that: “Russia is waging a brutal war against Ukraine. It is a war against the European order, which is based on peace and international law.”

DW: Gens Turau – Dimitra Kyranoudis

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