Germany disputes Biden adviser’s account on Abrams tanks
Berlin has contradicted Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s account that the the White House only sent Abrams tanks at German insistence.
BERLIN — The German government has refuted a White House account that U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to the delivery of Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine only at Germany’s insistence and against the recommendation of his military officials.
On Monday, Germany’s deputy government spokesperson Wolfgang Büchner said at a press conference that the decision to jointly supply battle tanks was consensual from Germany’s standpoint.
“These were good, constructive talks in which care was always taken by both sides to come to a joint approach,” Büchner said.
On Sunday, Biden’s security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told ABC News: “The president originally decided against sending … Abrams tanks … because his military told them that they would not be useful on the battlefield in this fight.”
Instead, Sullivan said, Leopard tanks were perceived as being most useful.
“But the Germans told the president that they would not be prepared to send those Leopards into the fight … until the president also agreed to send Abrams,” Sullivan said. In the interest of “alliance unity” and “to insure Ukraine got what it wanted,” Biden agreed to the delivery of Abrams tanks even though they aren’t what Ukraine needs most, Sullivan explained.
“The president said: OK, I’m going to be the leader of the free world. I will send Abrams down the road if you send Leopards now.”
Büchner reiterated an earlier statement by chief government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had never told Biden the delivery of German Leopard tanks was conditional upon delivery of Abrams tanks.
Hebestreit had said in January: “At no time … has there been a junket or a demand that one must happen so that the other can happen.”
Büchner commented on Monday that this account requires no correction.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz had long hesitated to unilaterally send German Leopard primary battle tanks. Scholz, who is expected to visit the White House on Friday, typically emphasizes close coordination with Washington.