Petr Bystron of the far-right Alternative for Germany party slammed the chancellor's decision to give Ukraine Leopard tanks
A member of parliament from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has accused Chancellor Olaf Scholz of undermining one of the fundamental principles of Germany's foreign policy since the end of World War II. Petr Bystron's criticism came in response to Scholz's decision to provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard tanks.
Addressing the chancellor in the German parliament on Wednesday, Bystron argued that Scholz would "go down in history" as a leader who had negated the "never again" tenet long espoused by Berlin. According to the AfD lawmaker, this principle was taken to mean, among other things, abstention from weapons exports to conflict zones.
He went on to remind fellow MPs and the chancellor that Germany bears special responsibility for the victims of World War II, including those in the Soviet Union.
Bystron suggested that Scholz's latest decision was in stark contrast to the legacy of his "great" Social-Democratic predecessors, such as Willy Brant and Helmut Schmidt, who had "done a lot for peace and reconciliation."
"Millions of [German] citizens are asking themselves: 'Why, what for did you do that?'" the AfD politician claimed.
Bystron went on to allege that, by deciding to supply military hardware to Kiev, Scholz had gone "back on his own campaign promises" and gone "against the majority of the country."
The MP also questioned just how much difference 14 tanks would make on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Responding to the criticism, Scholz acknowledged that Germany had indeed departed from the principles set out by Brant and Schmidt. This, however, was solely the result of "Russia attacking Ukraine," according to the chancellor. He accused Moscow of waging an "imperialist war."
Earlier on Wednesday, Chancellor Scholz announced the decision to ship 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks from its own stock to Kiev. He argued that this "follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability."
The statement represented a major U-turn as Berlin had long resisted calls to donate the armor despite growing pressure from its allies.
Russian officials claim Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine only serve to unnecessarily prolong the conflict and could lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.