The German chancellor addressed the lower house of Germany’s parliament on Wednesday and said Berlin would provide state-of-the-art air defense weapons to Ukrainian forces.
In his address to lawmakers, Olaf Scholz outlined Germany’s approach to the war in Ukraine and its effects on the economy and broader government spending.
Defense of Berlin’s actions so far
The German government, which presented its budget on Wednesday, has been criticized for its perceived reluctance to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Before Scholz’s speech, opposition leader Friedrich Merz of the Christian Democrats had asked the chancellor to set aside his prepared text and tell parliament what weapons he planned to deliver to the country.
Defending Germany’s record, Scholz said Berlin began sending weapons to Ukraine soon after the war began.
He said Germany had so far sent 15 million rounds, 100,000 hand grenades and more than 5,000 anti-tank mines.
In the coming weeks, Scholz said Germany would provide more weapons, including the IRIS-T anti-aircraft system.
The IRIS-T, developed in collaboration by Germany with other NATO partners, has the capability to target and shoot down other air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. The Chancellor also said Germany would provide Ukraine with radar systems to help locate enemy artillery.
Scholz said Germany will send the IRIS-T system to Ukraine
Meanwhile, Scholz said Germany had been clear on its priorities, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin must be prevented from achieving his goals.
“Putin must not achieve his goals. He must not get away with this military attack on another country,” Scholz said. “This is imperialism, which we in Europe will not accept.”
So far, the German government has also agreed to provide two types of heavy weapons: 50 Gepard (Cheetah) anti-aircraft armored vehicles and seven 2000 armored howitzers. Ukraine is also calling for combat tanks and combat vehicles of infantry.
In addition, Germany plans to deliver four multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine, the dpa news agency reported on Wednesday.
Before addressing military spending, Scholz said the government was taking a number of steps to ease the burden of rising military prices. the German public.
Arms aid is crucial, but ‘will take months’
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also said Ukraine needed weapons such as artillery, drones and air defense weapons to defend against Russia’s onslaught.
“We are defending the Ukrainian people as best we can,” Baerbock told parliamentarians.
She said Scholz’s announcement that Berlin would send IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine was one way of supporting it, but she also acknowledged delivery “would take months.”
Change in approach to military spending
Scholz said in a government statement to the Bundestag on Feb. 27 that the budget would be endowed with the one-off special fund of 100 billion euros ($107 billion) for defense projects.
The German Chancellor said at the time that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had led to a “Zeitenwende”, or a turning point, in Germany’s funding of the army.
He also said that more than 2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be invested in defence, to match NATO’s goals for its member states.
The announcement heralded a major shift in policy after decades of German military restraint rooted in Germany’s bloody 20th-century history.
Immediately after Russia invaded his neighbour, the German army chief said his own troops were ill-equipped for military action and that he was “fed up” with Germany’s neglect of the army.
The money is expected to be used for a range of projects, including encrypted radios, new warships and a short-range air defense system.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Wednesday that Germany would buy 60 CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters.
The German military has been trying for years to secure Chinook helicopters to replace its aging fleet of cargo helicopters.
“With this model, we strengthen our ability to cooperate in Europe,” Lambrecht said in a speech to lawmakers.
In response to criticism of its arms deliveries to Kyiv, Berlin says it supplies arms indirectly by sending material to other NATO allies.
These countries, like the Czech Republic, can in turn deliver their older weapons – mostly Soviet-designed and familiar to the Ukrainian military – to Kyiv.
rs, rc/sms (Reuters, TSTIME, dpa)