Germany sends its first tanks to Greece under a deal to supply arms to Ukraine
As part of an exchange agreement, Germany sent the first batch of Marder armored personnel carriers to Greece on Sunday (October 16), which in return provides for Athens to deliver 40 Soviet-designed tanks to the Ukraine.
So far, Germany has delivered six of the 40 armored vehicles to Greece.
Another 14 tanks are expected to arrive in Greece by October 21, meaning there are still 20 to be delivered, a source familiar with the matter told EURACTIV.
In return, Athens will supply Ukraine with 40 Soviet-designed BMP-1 tanks. BMP-1 are Soviet-designed amphibious infantry fighting vehicles equipped with two tracks.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the arms swap at the end of May 2022 after talks with the Greek government.
Berlin sends Soviet weapons to Ukraine via partners because the Ukrainian military is already used to this equipment, while modern equipment like the Marder would require additional training.
So far, the German side has not been able to confirm this information.
A Defense Department spokesman said Monday (October 17) that it could not “provide no new information”but mentioned the “close exchange and good discussions” with Greek side.
Germany has exchange agreements with other countries. The agreements with Slovakia and the Czech Republic are already in place, and that with Slovenia is in preparation. The attempt to conclude an exchange agreement with Poland has so far been unsuccessful.
In addition, the federal government’s strategy on this issue has been criticized by some.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek told the magazine The mirror in July was the exchange of tanks “deceptive maneuver” because only one “symbolic number” been offered by tanks.
Modernization of the Greek Army
The delivery from Germany to Greece will also contribute to the modernization of the Greek army, as obsolete BMP-1 tanks will be replaced with more modern and much more expensive German equipment.
The modernization of the Greek military has been in the spotlight since the recent rise in tensions with Turkey over the Greek islands.
However, the new tanks will not be stationed on the Greek islands, EURACTIV has learned. According to several Greek sources, this decision is aimed at preventing the conflict with Turkey from escalating any further.
Ankara multiplies threats
Turkey threatened Greece with a nighttime invasion in September.
“We can suddenly come in the middle of the night”said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the time.
In September, the Greek Defense Ministry also reported that Turkey was increasingly violating Greek airspace, including through the use of drones such as the Ayraktar, which are also used in Ukraine.
This dispute between the two countries has already reached Brussels, as we can read in the European Commission’s annual report on enlargement, published in October “Turkey must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all EU member states”.
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