Germany will send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine to aid the country’s embattled military against the Russian invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday, in a sharp departure from the country’s long-standing policy of not allowing German-made lethal weapons to be sent to conflict zones.
Ukrainian servicemen ride on a tank towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region … [+] of Ukraine on February 25, 2022. (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)
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Scholz wrote in a tweet that the “Russian invasion marks a turning point. It is our duty to support Ukraine to the best of our ability in defending against Putin’s invading army.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lauded Scholz’s announcement, telling the German chancellor on Twitter to “keep it up” and calling it “anti-war coalition in action!”
Germany will also lift its ban on other countries sending German-manufactured weapons—a reversal from its previous policy—and authorized the Netherlands to send 400 rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Ukraine.
The approval for the Dutch to send weapons to Ukraine, which was first reported by Politico, came amid pressure from other E.U. and NATO allies who are sending guns, ammunition and other military aid to bolster Ukraine’s defenses as Russian forces close in on major Ukrainian cities.
The shift could lead to an increase in weapons transfers to Ukraine, as many of Europe’s weapons are in-part manufactured by Germany, giving the country legal control over transfers to third parties, Politico reports.
The German Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
Germany’s long-standing policy on blocking weapons transfers to conflict zones, which is rooted in a desire to make up for the destruction wrought by the country in World War II, has drawn criticism from Ukraine and some EU countries. Germany last month withheld approval from Estonia to transfer German-made artillery to Ukraine. Estonia purchased the weapons from Finland, but Germany also had a say because it sold the weapons to Finland. In response, Germany offered to donate 5,000 helmets and a field hospital to Ukraine, which provoked outrage from other E.U. countries, and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko called the offer a “joke.” In recent weeks and as recently as Friday, German officials defended the country’s policy preventing the transfer of lethal weapons, which was aimed at finding other ways to secure peace across the continent.
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Germany is working on finding “targeted and functional” ways to remove Russia from the SWIFT banking system, Bloomberg reports. Germany and the U.S. initially opposed cutting Moscow off from the system, though CNN reports President Joe Biden is “seriously weighing” whether to support removing Russia.
The U.S. also ramped up its military assistance Friday evening, authorizing up to $350 million in additional aid to support Ukraine’s defense. The U.S. has committed over $1 billion in security assistance in the past year, according to a statement from the State Department. The Netherlands said it would send 200 air defense rockets to Ukraine, and Belgium announced it would supply Ukraine with 2,000 machine guns and thousands of tons in fuel.
Germany OKs weapons for Ukraine in major shift on military aid (Politico)
Live: Russia Has Sent Over 50% Of Invasion Force Into Ukraine—But Frustrated By Stiff Resistance, U.S. Says (Forbes)
Germany cannot supply Ukraine weapons due to WW2 past (Reuters)