• Scholz has faced criticism for his cautious stance
  • Its Social Democrats have sought close ties with Moscow
  • Ukraine has called for more heavy weapons

BERLIN, April 26 (Reuters) – Germany announced on Tuesday its first delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine to help defend against Russian attacks after weeks of pressure at home and abroad to do so amid confusion over its stance. .

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said the government on Monday approved the delivery of “Gepard” anti-aircraft tanks from KMW company stocks.

“The real meaning of this decision lies not in the difference Gepards can make on the battlefield, but in the signal it sends,” said Marcel Dirsus, a non-resident fellow at the Kiel University Institute for Security Policy.

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“Europe’s largest economy is getting serious about supporting Ukraine and more aid is coming.”

Critics, including Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, have accused Berlin of delaying the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine and other measures that could help kyiv repel Russian forces, such as an embargo on imports of Russian energy. .

They say he is not showing the leadership expected of a great power and that his dithering is costing Ukrainian lives.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has responded that the armed forces, the Bundeswehr, are already at the limit of what they can spend, while the weapons that industry could provide lack ammunition and need improvement. read more

Scholz, a Social Democrat whose party has long championed close ties with Russia, also warned of the risk of Moscow perceiving Germany as part of the conflict, which could lead to a “third world war”.

However, even members of the two junior partners in his tripartite governing coalition, the Greens and the Free Democrats, have challenged this reasoning, saying Germany needs to do more.

Ukraine’s orders for heavy weapons have intensified since Moscow shifted its offensive to the eastern Donbas region, territory seen as more suitable for tank battles than the areas around kyiv, where much of the fighting took place. previous fights.

The announcement of the Gepard deliveries came after reports on Monday that defense company Rheinmetall (RHMG.DE) had requested government approval for the delivery of 100 vintage Marder infantry fighting vehicles and 88 Leopard 1A5 tanks. old to Ukraine. read more

Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine, now entering its third month, as a “special military operation” aimed at degrading its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and rooting out what it calls dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted a strong resistance and the West has imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

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Additional reporting by Alexander Ratz and Sarah Marsh, Editing by Miranda Murray, Paul Carrel and Gareth Jones

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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