Now It’s Germany’s Turn to Frustrate Allies Over Ukraine

First it was France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, who angered his NATO allies by suggesting that soon the West could be forced to send troops to Ukraine, portending a direct confrontation with Russian forces that the rest of the alliance has long rejected.

Then Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany took his own turn exposing new divisions. Trying to justify why Germany was withholding its most powerful missile, the Taurus, from Ukrainian hands, he hinted that Britain, France and the United States may secretly be helping Ukraine target similar weapons, a step he said Germany simply could not take. While neither Britain or France has commented officially — they almost never discuss how their weapons are deployed — Mr. Scholz was immediately accused by former officials of revealing war secrets.

“Scholz’s behavior has showed that as far as the security of Europe goes he is the wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time,” Ben Wallace, Britain’s former defense minister, told The Evening Standard, a London daily. Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative who once chaired a key defense committee in the House of Commons was widely quoted in the British press calling the statement “a flagrant abuse of intelligence.”

Coming in a week when President Vladimir V. Putin threatened nuclear escalation if NATO troops entered the conflict, the tensions among Western allies underscored the ways they are struggling to maintain unity at a moment of apparent stalemate in the war and of flagging support, particularly in Washington.

For NATO the challenge now is to find some combination of new weapons and financial support without prompting a direct confrontation with Mr. Putin, never knowing precisely where that line is. It is a particularly difficult dance for Mr. Scholz.

Germany has provided more arms and promised more aid to Ukraine than any nation bar the United States — but Mr. Scholz has drawn the line at the Taurus, whose powers, he fears, could particularly provoke Mr. Putin.

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