Germany announces swap deal with Greece for tanks to Ukraine

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 01 2022 07:58 AM

German Marder infantry fighting vehicles in action during in the Defender Europe 2022 military exercise at the Drawsko Pomorskie military range in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, 06 May 2022. EPA-EFE/Marcin Bielecki
German Marder infantry fighting vehicles in action during in the Defender Europe 2022 military exercise at the Drawsko Pomorskie military range in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, 06 May 2022. EPA-EFE/Marcin Bielecki

BRUSSELS, Belgium - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday he had agreed a deal with Greece that would see Athens send Soviet-era military vehicles to Ukraine in exchange for more modern armor from Berlin.

"We will provide German armored personnel carriers," Scholz said after an EU summit in Brussels. 

Berlin will send Marder transport tanks to Greece, which in turn will deliver Soviet-era BMP-1 combat tanks to Ukraine, according to Greek media reports.

"From the first moment, it was clear that we had to make the right choice, that is support Ukraine in all possible ways," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a visit to the Netherlands on Tuesday.

However, he conceded Greece retained "relatively close" ties with Russia for geographical reasons and the traditions of its Orthodox church.

NATO member Greece sent Ukraine defensive equipment including Kalashnikovs, anti-tank weapons and ammunition in late February, drawing criticism from left-wing opposition parties.

Main opposition party Syriza said it was "unthinkable" that Scholz announced the tank deal to the Greek people while Mitsotakis had made no mention of it following an EU summit in Brussels.

Germany has already struck a similar agreement with the Czech Republic to help supply weaponry to Ukraine and is currently negotiating one with Poland. 

The goal is to supply Ukraine with vitally needed weapons from old Soviet-era stocks that it can quickly put into battle as it tries to halt Russia's invasion. 

Germany wants to deliver 14 Leopard battle tanks and one Leopard armoured vehicle to Prague in exchange for the Czechs sending T-72 tanks to Ukraine.

No date has yet been set for the delivery, however.

A planned swap with Poland that was meant to see Warsaw receive modern substitutes for equipment sent to Ukraine has also yet to materialize. 

Polish President Andrzej Duda has accused Berlin of not keeping its promises over the hardware.

The German government has faced criticism from Kyiv and domestic opponents for being too slow in sending weapons to Ukraine.

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© Agence France-Presse

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