Debate on arms deliveries: tank exchange for Ukraine

Status: 04/21/2022 11:47 a.m

In the debate about arms deliveries, the federal government continues to be criticized. Defense Minister Lambrecht relies on a ring exchange with Slovenia. Main battle tanks should also go to Ukraine in this way.

Further details have now become known in the planned exchange of weapons by the federal government. According to information from the German Press Agency, Slovenia is to hand over a larger number of T-72 main battle tanks to Ukraine. For this, the NATO country should receive the Marder armored personnel carrier and the Fuchs wheeled armored vehicle from Germany.

“The Bundeswehr is in a situation in which it unfortunately cannot give up weapons if I want to continue to guarantee national and alliance defense, and I want that and I will too,” said Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on the “Frühstart” program RTL/ntv. “I have a duty to my NATO partners to do the same.”

Support with ammunition and training

Instead, weapons of Soviet design are to be brought to Ukraine from Eastern Europe. The T-72 weapon system dates back to Soviet times and is already being used by the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian troops therefore do not need any additional training for this.

Originally, Slovenia had also demanded more modern equipment such as the Leopard 2 main battle tank, the Boxer wheeled tank and the Puma infantry fighting vehicle from Germany as compensation.

Lambrecht: Bundeswehr not so equipped

The German government wants to support other NATO partners with ammunition and training. For example, Lambrecht confirmed that the Bundeswehr will train Ukrainian soldiers on the Panzerhaubitze 2000, which will be supplied to Ukraine by the Netherlands.

Germany cannot do this because the Bundeswehr is not so equipped, said the SPD politician. “But where we can provide training, we will.”

Direct supplies from the armaments industry

Chancellor Olaf Scholz explained on Tuesday that the federal government would no longer supply weapons from Bundeswehr stocks. Instead, Germany should finance direct deliveries to the armaments industry. Scholz announced last week that he would increase the budget from 225 million to two billion euros.

After the start of the Russian invasion, the German government decided to supply Ukraine with weapons as well. Since then, machine guns, bazookas and anti-aircraft missiles have been delivered. The German Press Agency has now learned from Ukrainian government circles exactly how many weapons and ammunition came from Germany.

Heavy weapons not included

Ukraine received more than 2,500 anti-aircraft missiles, 900 rocket-propelled grenades with 3,000 rounds of ammunition, 100 machine guns, 15 Bunkerfaust with 50 rockets, 100,000 hand grenades, 2,000 mines, around 5,300 explosive charges and more than 16 million rounds of ammunition for handguns from Germany. In addition, 1000 spare parts for machine guns, 100,000 detonating cords and 250,000 igniters were delivered.

Heavy weapons such as tanks or artillery are not included in the deliveries. However, these are still being demanded by Ukraine. Some German politicians are also in favor of the delivery of heavy weapons.

SPD boss defends the course

SPD leader Lars Klingbeil defended the Chancellor’s course. “It is right that in this current situation we have a Chancellor who leads carefully, who thinks things through from the end, who coordinates with international partners,” said Klingbeil in a joint statement Morning magazine from ARD and ZDF. In recent months, Germany has significantly increased deliveries to Ukraine in terms of quality and quantity.

Other German politicians were less understanding. Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther said in morning magazine, Ukraine needs quick support. According to the CDU politician, Germany must take a clear stance in order to be accepted by its partners in the EU and NATO. There is also uncertainty among the population about the “very lurching course” of the federal government.

FDP politicians: Quick decisions needed

Thuringia’s SPD head of state Georg Maier told the “Thüringer Allgemeine” that he was in favor of supplying or financing Ukraine’s weapons that are most effective, i.e. anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. “But we should also provide armored personnel carriers like the Marder, directly from the Bundeswehr,” says Maier. The tanks would be quick to deploy in Ukraine and easy to operate.

The FDP defense politician Alexander Müller called for quick decisions about the further course. “The German public has a right to know whether we are supplying heavy weapons like our NATO partners. To this day, the German government’s line is still unclear,” said Müller. “Much would be achieved if the export applications, which have been available for two months, were finally decided.”

Ambassador accuses federal government of corrected list

Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk told the Stuttgarter Zeitung that he still does not see the “strong military support” that his country is hoping for. He accuses the federal government of having removed heavy weapons from a delivery list.

CDU external expert Norbert Röttgen said in rbb, he fears that the accusation of a clean list is correct. It was a “grave mistake” to refuse Ukraine help with heavy weapons. It is also unacceptable that the chancellor constantly and deliberately speaks in riddles. At the most recent appearance, according to Röttgen, it was simply not possible to understand what Germany wanted to deliver. Scholz violated a democratic duty if he did not communicate openly in such a crisis.

With information from Kai Clement, ARD Capital Studio

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