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- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced criticism for delaying the delivery of tanks to Ukraine.
- Scholz’s indecision became the topic of Ukrainian memes that coined the term “Scholzing.”
- “Scholzing” means to communicate good intentions, but find or invent reasons to delay action.
The indecision of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is the stuff of memes.
As Scholz spent weeks hesitating — and facing international pressure — over sending advanced Leopard 2 tanks to battle Russian forces in Ukraine, his name took on a new meaning.
—Timothy Garton Ash (@fromTGA) January 19, 2023
“Scholzing,” a verb found in Ukrainian memes, has come to mean “communicating good intentions, only to use/find/invent any reason imaginable to delay these and/or prevent them from happening,” according to historian Timothy Garton Ash.
Representatives for Scholz did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
—French Canadian Fella ⚜️🇨🇦🇺🇦 (@lebeaujfnoel) January 22, 2023
Though Scholz did this week announce Germany’s approval to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, he delayed the decision with claims that the tank’s availability had to be checked. He also insisted the move be tied to a United States commitment to send their own Abrams tanks to the frontlines.
Extensive Western aid supporting Ukraine has faced international criticism since the invasion began last year, with some academics and policy experts, such as Charles A. Kupchan, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University, arguing in a New York Times opinion piece that fighting Russian control of the Ukrainian Donbas region and Crimea is “not worth risking a new world war.”
—川和碧薇💙💛 (@BiviHuaHua) January 24, 2023
Ash did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but described Scholz’s foot-dragging on sending the tanks as “weak, contradictory, inconsistent, historically insensitive, morally problematic, disingenuous and counter-productive.”
“German foot-dragging could mean that Russia ends up hanging onto more of that territory, and therefore being able to claim a partial victory in any resulting de facto if not de jure peace settlement,” Ash wrote in a Substack post about Scholz. “There is good reason to believe that some German policymakers – as always, giving strategic priority to the long-term relationship with Russia – privately reckon that this would be an outcome we should settle for. That is the truth that dares not speak its name.”
—Flyin’Fella До Валгалли (@Kryptobirdie) January 20, 2023
Scholz’s exceptionally cautious approach to relations with Russia, European political commentator Matthew Karnitschnig wrote for Politico, is “rooted in the prevailing German narrative” that the country’s ongoing economic and diplomatic relations with the Soviets is “what ended the Cold War and led to reunification.”
“Yet Germany’s perception of how and why the Cold War ended has become its reality and informs both policy-making and public opinion,” Karnitschnig wrote. “Scholz too has shown that the only thing allies can count on Germany for is that it will drag its feet, parse every decision large or small and then play what Germans like to call a ‘beleidigte Leberwurst’ (an offended liver sausage), demanding more ‘respect.'”
Karnitschnig is not the first to compare Scholz’s political maneuvering to that of a sulking sausage – in May, German news site DW News reported Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, used the phrase to describe Scholz after he refused to visit Kyiv following the Russian invasion.
“It doesn’t sound very statesmanlike,” DW News reported Melnyk said at the time, “To behave like a beleidigte Leberwurst.”