Westerners coordinate to speed up arms shipments to Ukraine; Germany will supply Gepards.
Poland has sent tanks to Ukraine, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday, without offering further details. Ukraine has repeatedly asked Western countries to urgently supply more weapons, especially heavy equipment, as Russian forces continue their offensive in the country.
“Yes,” Morawiecki said when asked whether Poland had sent or would send tanks to Ukraine. He declined to reveal additional details, including the number of tanks sent. In March, the Polish government announced that it was ready to dispatch all of its MiG-29 jets to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where it would make them available to the United States, but the proposal was rejected by Washington.
“There is no such need, there are no requirements or requests like that,” Morawiecki said when asked if sending planes to Ukraine was still being considered.
Westerners coordinate to speed up arms shipments to Ukraine; Germany will supply Gepards.
The German government will authorize delivery of “Gepard”-type armored vehicles to Ukraine, which represents a major change in Berlin’s prudent policy of military support to Kyiv. The details of that decision are discussed this Tuesday (26), at a meeting called by the United States in Ramstein, in western Germany. About 40 allied countries want to speed up arms shipments to Ukraine to weaken the Russian offensive.
The meeting of Western defense ministers is held at the American military base in Ramstein. As Russia seeks complete control of southern Ukraine and the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, this meeting is intended to “generate additional capabilities for Ukrainian forces,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday. fair (25), after visiting Kyiv. The Pentagon chief said Ukraine “can beat” Russia if given the right equipment. German tanks of the “Gepard” type are specialized in air defense.
The vehicles would come from German defense industry stockpiles. Details on the exact number of tanks that will be supplied to the Ukrainian Army are discussed at this meeting by German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been questioned by several Baltic and Central European countries for his refusal to send heavy weapons requested by Ukraine. Critics see in his attitude a continuation of the pro-Russian bias of his social-democratic SPD party.
France has already announced the deployment of “Caesar” cannons with a range of 40 km and the United Kingdom has donated “Starstreak” anti-aircraft missiles and armored vehicles. Canada and the Czech Republic are also supplying Kyiv with new weapons.
The German government has been hard-pressed to abandon its decades-long anti-arms policy.
After much pressure from the international community, from Ukraine, and even from members of the government itself, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed (finally) to send tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces. The decision came in the context of talks on military support for Ukraine at the US base in Ramstein, Germany, which this Tuesday brings together military leaders from 40 countries.
The news had already been anticipated by the Spanish newspaper ABC, through sources in the German Defense Ministry, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht will announce that the private company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), a producer and supplier of war material, will obtain permission to sell and ship Gepard tanks to Ukraine.
This morning, Lambrecht confirmed the decision, saying that, “in the face of war and brutal aggression”, Germany is moving away from “the policy of containment on the export of arms to conflict zones, especially to help Ukraine”. “It was not easy, but it was a decision supported by the majority of our population,” said the German defense minister.
KMW is also expected to receive authorization from the German federal government to sell old and restored models of anti-aircraft tanks. ABC adds that KMW may sell Panzerhaubitze 2000 systems, a German-Dutch defense system that can attack targets 40 kilometers away.
The requests for anti-aircraft defense are among the most frequent by the Ukrainians who, despite being able to counter Russian advances in some areas, continue with a reduced armament to combat Russian aviation. The German official added that “Putin thought that the Western Allies were going to split with the war”, but Germany’s decision shows that “exactly the opposite happened”.
“The diplomatic coalition guarantees resistance and bets on law-based order and encompasses the whole world,” she said. End of arms neutrality? The pressure on Germany has been increasing day by day, with NATO countries demanding that the German federal government give in and end its policy against sending weapons to third countries, a policy that has reigned in the country since the fall. of the Berlin wall.
The most Germany has done so far, other than participating in sanctions against Russia, is sending protective material to Kyiv. And even in the field of sanctions, Germany’s heavy dependence on Russian natural gas continues to be debated. However, if a decision to send arms might be welcomed by the Germans’ allies, parties within Germany’s borders will look less favorably.
The social democratic party SPD, the party that leads the government and which nominated the chancellor, is the most critical against arms to third countries, and ABC expects that there will be criticism against the chancellor for the decision. But within the government itself, Scholz was pressured by partners to act. Last week, the parliamentary leader of the liberal FDP party, which belongs to the ruling coalition, demanded that Germany “play a central role” in resolving the war by sending arms. On the other side of the bench, the CDU, the right-wing conservative party once led by Angela Merkel and the largest opposition party, is expected to support a potential decision and side with the main internal adversary.
Since the start of the invasion of Russia on February 24, more than 2,600 Ukrainian civilians have died in the war, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, the UN agency warns that the real death toll is likely to be much higher, given the high number of civilians killed in cities bombed and besieged by the Russians, and the mass graves that are being found in cities after the removal of troops.
Germany announces deployment of anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine
The German government confirmed on Tuesday (26/04) that it will approve the supply of 50 Gepard-type anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, in yet another turnaround in Germany’s approach to the war in the east.
Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht announced the move at the opening of a US-promoted conference on Russia’s war against Ukraine at the US base in Ramstein, Germany.
“We have decided that Germany will make it possible to deliver ‘Gepard’ anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine,” Lambrecht said, confirming information reported by the German press.
The armored vehicles should come from the stockpiles of the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) armament company. Originally, the Gepard was developed to provide the Bundeswehr (German Air Forces) with protection against low-flying aircraft and combat helicopters and can also be used against ground targets.
It was produced from the early 1970s and also supplied to the Netherlands and Belgium. The Bundeswehr retired the model about a decade ago. Within NATO, the air defense system is still used by Romania.
The industry’s willingness to deliver Gepard tanks to Ukraine was already on the table, but it still ran into practical considerations, such as the lack of ammunition for the old system. According to the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, this was recently circumvented by searching for ammunition in countries that still use the system, such as Brazil.
In addition to supplying armored vehicles, Berlin says it will also support Kyiv by training Ukrainian soldiers in Germany, the defense minister announced. “We are working together with our American friends to train Ukrainian troops in artillery systems on German soil,” Lambrecht said.
With the two announcements, Lambrecht tried to mitigate the harsh criticism that Germany has been receiving in terms of arms deliveries. The federal government has come under fire for weeks for what has been described as at least a hesitant move.
In recent weeks, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced mounting pressure for refusing to send heavy weapons directly to Ukraine. The term “heavy weapon” applies to all tanks and armored vehicles, as well as artillery of 100 millimeters or more, and aircraft and helicopters.
Offer of 5 thousand helmets
Berlin went through a series of posture reversals until it reached the point of offering heavy armored vehicles to Ukraine, often making announcements that sounded contradictory. At the end of January, when Russia had already assembled more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine and the US was warning of an imminent invasion, Germany only offered Ukraine 5,000 helmets.
At other times, Berlin said it would not send lethal weapons to Ukraine. “In recent years, the German government has repeatedly decided not to supply lethal weapons. There are reasons for this, which of course are also based on all the developments of recent years and decades,” Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on one occasion.
“Turning point” in German defense policy
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany reversed its long-standing policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones, and Scholz heralded a “turning point” in German defense policy.
Germany announced that it would send Ukraine 1,000 anti-tank weapons, 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, about 2,700 Strela anti-aircraft missiles, and ammunition, as well as some machine guns, grenades, and mines.
Berlin also approved requests from other countries (Estonia, Czech Republic) to send some weapons from the former Soviet-era East Germany to Ukraine, including armored vehicles.
According to press reports, Germany has also agreed to an equipment exchange with Slovenia. The small country would send a large number of its Soviet-era T-72 main battle tanks to Ukraine, and Germany would then send several Marder and Fox tanks as replacements to Slovenia.
However, the German government continued to refuse all Ukrainian requests for direct shipment of German-made heavy military equipment.
Last Friday, Scholz even publicly reiterated his opposition to sending more modern tanks to Ukraine for fear of an escalation that could provoke an even more aggressive reaction from Russia.
The new decision to supply the Gepard tanks was taken at a closed-door government meeting on Monday, Minister Christine Lambrecht said.
A spokesperson for the German Economy Ministry, charged with approving arms exports, did not provide an immediate answer as to whether approving the Gepard deployment meant the Scholz government could also approve other industry requests to sell German tanks to Ukraine.
Source: With agencies