Berlin Reportedly Snubs Kiev’s Request for Arms as Ukraine Complains About German Payments to Russia
14:41 GMT 13.06.2022 (Updated: 20:56 GMT 19.10.2022)
© AP Photo / Michael SohnPanzerhaubitze 2000
© AP Photo / Michael Sohn
The German government has committed hundreds of millions of euros’ worth of weapons aid to Ukraine, sending thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and mines, grenades, machine guns, armoured vests, helmets and night vision systems. But Berlin has stalled on the supply of heavy weapons, evoking bitter complaints from Kiev.
German Federal Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht sidestepped her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov’s questions in a phone call last Thursday about when the MARS II guided multiple-launch rocket systems promised by Berlin would arrive, Welt has reported, citing a source in Ukrainian government circles.
Calling Lambrecht’s answer “nebulous and evasive,” the source said the minister only promised to clarify what can be done. Reznikov also requested the delivery of German Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard main battle tanks, but got no answer. The source complained that the German government had recently effectively blocked all urgent requests for heavy weapons.
Berlin greenlit the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine in late April amid heavy criticism from bloc allies for its perceived foot-dragging. However, more than seven weeks on, the promised arms, including 50 refurbished Flakpanzer Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, 7 Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzers and ammo, and IRIS-T air defence systems, have yet to arrive.
Earlier Monday, Business Insider Germany reported that there were “massive problems with almost all the weapons systems promised” to Kiev, with the IRIS-T not expected to be delivered until November or December. Last week, Chancellor Scholz announced that Germany would donate up to 50 Marder IFVs to Greece in exchange for the country’s stocks of Soviet-era BMP-1P IFVs, which would be passed on to Ukraine. However, according to BI’s sources, Athens has only agreed to give up its BMP-1Ps when all 50 of the promised Marders are delivered amid tensions with Turkey. Marder manufacturer Rheinmetall reportedly also expressed “surprise” by the exchange, preferring to sell the vehicles directly to Ukraine.
As for the MARS II guided MLRS, the outlet said that less than half of the nearly 40 systems in the Bundeswehr’s inventory were even operational, with the delivery of four to Ukraine, as promised by Berlin, sparking behind-the-scenes grumbling from the military. The systems would also need to be reprogrammed, since they are not able to fire ammunition manufactured by the US or Britain. This issue could take “months” to solve in the worst case scenario, the outlet’s sources indicated.
Only the promised Gepard anti-aircraft tanks are expected to be sent soon, with 15 expected to arrive in mid-July, and 15 more by the end of August.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk, the confrontational diplomat whom Bundestag lawmakers suggested should be expelled after he called Chancellor Sholz an “offended liverwurst sausage” last month, issued a fresh attack on the German government on Monday, accusing Berlin of delaying weapons deliveries while paying Russia hundreds of millions of euros for gas on a daily basis.
“For Ukraine, it’s important whether German solidarity is worth something, or not even a cent. From our perspective…Germany pays several hundred million euros to Russia every day. You can buy 300-400 Marder IFVs with that money. Every day Ukraine is waiting for 100 [Marders], for weeks now, but there’s no decision from the Chancellor’s office,” Melnyk told Bild.
The ambassador also complained about the purported lack of “hospitality” for Ukrainian refugees in Germany, saying that more Ukrainians were now leaving the country than entering, and suggesting that it was “clear why many Ukrainians have no desire to stay here.”
“It is not for us to judge whether you want to support us or not. What I want to say is that sooner or later the conflict will end, and after that, many will ask themselves the question of who was on our side,” the diplomat said.
Melnyk stressed that he expects Scholz to provide concrete support from Germany on Ukraine’s candidacy for European Union membership.
10 June 2022, 14:58 GMT