Germany's Scholz Agrees to Send Modern Air Defence System to Ukraine

June 1, 2022

Berlin — Germany is to deliver a modern air defence system to Ukraine, along with a radar tracker that can detect artillery, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Bundestag on Wednesday. Germany plans to deliver four multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine from Bundeswehr stocks, in close coordination with the United States, dpa learned from government sources.

The United States will train Ukrainian soldiers to use the systems. The German government's goal is to ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin "does not win" the war he started in Ukraine, Scholz said during a budget debate. "Our goal is for Ukraine to be able to defend itself and succeed in doing so." Berlin is sending the anti-missile system and early warning radar system after Scholz has faced extensive criticism at home and abroad for failing to provide Ukraine with the heavy weaponry it needs to repel Russia's ongoing attacks.

That criticism continued on Wednesday as opposition leader Friedrich Merz slammed Scholz for failing to support Ukraine.

The heavy weapons that Berlin had promised have yet to reach Kiev, more than a month after the Bundestag passed a resolution to provide help, Merz said. He said that in the European Union, there was now only resentment, disappointment and "real annoyance" about Germany's behaviour in the conflict.

"You've been talking a bit more than usual lately, but you continue to say nothing," Merz said. He also criticized Scholz for saying Moscow must not win the war, rather than simply stating "Ukraine must win this war." While Scholz has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone, he has not set a date for the Ukrainian parliamentary speaker to come to Berlin, Merz said.

Merz accused the chancellor of failing to make concrete decisions, and his parliamentary group called on Scholz to take a clear position on whether Ukraine and Moldova should be given candidate status to join the European Union.

The criticism comes as Kiev continues to demand the heavy weapons it needs to defend itself. Ukraine has put Germany - the world's fifth-largest exporter of arms - under constant pressure to provide heavier and more modern weaponry.

But compared to other countries in Europe, Scholz's government was late to pledge such support, arguing that Berlin did not want to escalate the conflict, and that laws prevented Germany from supplying weapons to combat zones. Scholz then pledged the delivery of heavier weaponry - such as anti-aircraft tanks and armoured howitzers - to Ukraine, saying these would not mark an escalation in the conflict. The deliveries were a way of "defending against the attack, and therefore ending the violence as soon as possible," Scholz said in May.

Meanwhile Ukraine and Moldova are also calling to join the European Union, with many fearing that Russia's attacks could extend beyond Ukraine's borders.

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