Greece’s largest opposition party on Tuesday protested the announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Athens would be sending Soviet-era armored vehicles to Ukraine.
The “ring swap,” in which Germany would send newer vehicles to Greece in exchange, enables Berlin to keep its distance from the conflict in Ukraine.
“We consider it inconceivable that the Greek people would have heard this news from the German chancellor at a time when the Greek prime minister did not speak about it at his press conference,” the Syriza-Progressive Alliance said in a statement.
Addressing reporters on Tuesday, after a European Council meeting in Brussels, Scholz revealed the “Ringtausch” deal with Athens, and said he was speaking with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to make a similar arrangement with Warsaw.
Greece is reportedly hoping to get second-hand Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles (IVF) in exchange for sending Ukraine some of its aging BMP-1-Ost IFVs. Germany’s Rheinmetall said last month it had around 200 refurbished Marders ready to go.
Athens acquired 500 or so BMP-1-Ost vehicles from Berlin back in 1994, which were refurbished from the old East German arsenal. This particular design is the very first generation of infantry fighting vehicles, and the Greeks have reportedly had trouble keeping them operational due to a lack of spare parts and ammunition. About 100 were sent to the US-backed Iraqi armed forces after the 2003 invasion, several were converted to ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft platforms, while others were retired and even used for target practice.