(OTTAWA) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not “take lightly” the decision to allow his allies, including Canada, to export Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. It is that in the country, a good part of the population remains “traumatized” by the Second World War and greatly fears a third world conflict, explains the German ambassador in Ottawa.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his entourage were already playing on this sensitive chord, but the chorus of indignation (and misinformation) has grown in Moscow since Germany gave the green light to sending of these tanks. And the master of the Kremlin again drove the point home on Thursday.
“It’s unbelievable, but German Leopard tanks are threatening us again,” he said at a ceremony in Volgograd – the former Stalingrad – aimed at marking 80 years of the mythical Soviet victory against Israel. Nazi Germany in this city in southwestern Russia. “We have something to answer and it will not be limited to armored vehicles,” added the Russian president.
Many Germans are not immune to this kind of comment, said Sabine Sparwasser, the German head of mission in Canada, in an interview. And Chancellor Scholz, on whom the West was exerting enormous pressure to allow the export of Leopard 2 tanks, could not turn a deaf ear.
“There is a majority of the population, between 55% and 60%, who were in favor of it, but there is also a significant part of the population who is very afraid of being plunged into a war, a possible Third World War world,” she said from her embassy office on Thursday.
The fear is there. We have people who lived through the Second World War, who have memories of it, who are still traumatized. This decision was not taken lightly at all. For years, we have refused to send arms to conflict zones, out of a pacifist tradition.
Sabine Sparwasser, German Head of Mission in Canada
And in all likelihood, this is the line in the sand that Berlin is drawing. No question of sending to Kyiv, after the 14 Leopard 2s, fighter planes or warships. “The Chancellor was very clear about this”, slice Mme Sparwasser, who has been in Ottawa for five years.
When announcing the donation of four Leopard 2 tanks last week, Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand ignored questions about the possible shipment of fighter jets to Ukraine. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has been ignoring reporters’ questions about the significance of the four-tank donation for several days.
Exit, Russian gas
In addition to operating a 180-degree turn in terms of foreign policy following the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last, Germany has reviewed its energy policy from top to bottom: now, it fed on low-cost Russian gas is completely weaned from it. Hence his thirst for energy sources to replace the 55% that came from Russia.
“It’s a major change,” insists Mme Sparwasser.
The German government had gone so far as to persuade the Canadian government to bungle its own sanctions regime in order to allow the dispatch of a turbine allegedly necessary for the proper functioning of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.
The exemption has since been revoked, as Russia left the turbine untouched.
In search of new energy partners, Chancellor Scholz visited Canada last August. “Winter is coming, but the Chancellor leaves without promises for liquefied natural gas [GNL] “, headlined the Reuters news agency at the end of this trip.
The German winter is quite mild so far, consoles Mme Sparwasser. And, no, his head of state’s trip was not a disaster. “Everyone is talking about LNG, but the Chancellor didn’t come here with LNG as a top priority. »
A hydrogen alliance has been signed between the two countries, recalls the diplomat.
And anyway, in recent months, Canada, Germany and the other G7 countries have perhaps never been so united – against Putin – she argues.
With Agence France-Presse