Mr. Scholz said that Germany, which for decades left its military underequipped, could not afford to give Ukraine more of its own arms and still meet its national and NATO defense obligations.
“We have to recognize the possibilities we have are reaching their limits,” he said.
His stance on sending tanks and other heavy weapons to Ukraine, however, remained vague, and he would not clarify to journalists afterward whether Berlin would allow German defense contractors to sell such arms to Ukraine.
Pressed by a reporter whether he would respond to Ukraine’s demands for Leopard tanks, Mr. Scholz replied: “Looking at the world sometimes helps. In this case, it leads to the realization that those who are in a comparable position to Germany are acting in the same way as we are.”
It was an ill-timed retort, given that hours earlier the Netherlands had announced it would be providing heavy weapons, including armored vehicles, to Ukraine.
“Scholz doesn’t care about public perceptions,” Mr. Schmid said. “He concentrates on action. And he dislikes doing things based on public debate.”
In response to the debate, Mr. Scholz has seemed taciturn, even sarcastic. His frustration was particularly evident after a delegation of Bundestag members visited Ukraine last week — a move his chancellery reportedly discouraged.
The delegation included Ms. Strack-Zimmermann from the F.D.P., Mr. Hofreiter from the Greens, and Michael Roth from the S.P.D. All of them backed demands for heavy weaponry, and called on the chancellor to show stronger leadership.
Replying a few days later, in a television interview, he said: “To the boys and girls, I have to say: The fact I don’t just do what you want, that shows that I’m leading.”