On Saturday, Germany significantly beefed up its support for Ukraine’s battle with Russia, approving arms deliveries to Kiev in a political U-turn and agreeing to limit Moscow’s access to the Swift interbank system.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the Russian offensive ‘marks a turning point in history’ and ‘threatens our entire post-war order’ as his government approved the delivery of a huge batch of lethal weapons to Ukraine.
Breaking with its long-standing policy of banning arms exports to conflict zones, Berlin opens its Bundeswehr store, pledging to transfer 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 “Stinger” class surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine.
He also finally approved deliveries of 400 anti-tank rocket launchers via the Netherlands to Ukraine on Saturday.
The anti-tank launchers had been bought by the Netherlands in Berlin, and The Hague had therefore demanded the green light from Germany to hand them over to Kiev.
Similarly, a week-long request from Estonia for the transfer to Ukraine of eight ex-howitzers purchased from former communist East Germany has been approved.
In addition to weapons, 14 armored vehicles will be handed over to Ukraine, and “will be used for the protection of personnel, possibly for evacuation purposes”, said a government source.
For weeks, Kiev has been begging Germany to send armaments, and Berlin’s stubborn refusal so far to approve arms deliveries, as well as an earlier decision to send only 5,000 helmets, had aroused anger and mockery.
Hours before Germany’s key policy shift, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki became the latest leader to lash out at Berlin over its arms export stance as he arrived in Berlin for talks with Scholz.
“Five thousand helmets? It must be some kind of joke. We need real help…weapons,” he said, stressing that Ukraine is not just fighting for itself.
Morawiecki had also expressed frustration with Berlin for being slow to agree on “crushing” sanctions, including excluding Russia from the Swift system that banks rely on to transfer money.
But with growing pressure from allies, Berlin said it was now working to get Russia out of the system in a “targeted and functional” way. (AFP)