Update: the White House has claimed that the NZZ report is “not accurate,” according to Newsweek.
The Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung has offered an explanation for why German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s decision to send much-awaited Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine was so delayed, accompanied by chaotic messaging, and came so suddenly.
The decision, made on 24 January after months of Kyiv’s imploring for heavy weapons, unblocked a coalition of other countries to send their Leopards, the main battle tanks believed to be crucial for Ukraine to retake land occupied by the Russians. The countries were waiting for German permission to supply the German-made tanks.
Citing two German foreign policy politicians, who refused to be named because of the “explosive” information, the NZZ reports that in mid-January, US President Joe Biden instructed CIA chief William Burns to assess whether Kyiv and Moscow were willing to negotiate. Kyiv was offered peace for land, and Moscow – land for peace.
The “land” is said to have been about 20% of Ukrainian territory – which is currently what Russia occupies.