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Friday, March 24, 2023

Germany played a leading role in supplying arms

Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin said Germany had taken the initiative to supply arms to Kiev and had stopped making excuses, he said, not to send military aid to the ‘Ukraine.

Initially, Germany was reluctant to send heavy weapons to Ukraine to help counter a Russian invasion, fearing it would escalate the conflict. But in January Berlin agreed to send its Leopard tanks to Kiev and said it would work with its allies to send even more of its tanks to the warring country.

“What has changed over the last few months is that we are not only discussing the current situation, but also strategic planning based on what is needed and what can be done,” he told Reuters Ukrainian Ambassador Oleksiy Makeev. “Now there are no more excuses except for the facts we are talking about.”

On Friday, the Swiss government said Germany had asked it to resell some of its Leopard tanks to arms maker Rheinmetall, allowing the company to fill a void in the arsenals of European Union member states and NATO.

Makeev’s conciliatory words stand in stark contrast to the harsh tone of his predecessor, Andrei Melnik, who regularly blamed Germany for not doing enough to repel Russian aggression.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany said that Kiev mainly needs air defense systems, tanks, artillery and ammunition.

“We need more munitions and more long-range artillery to disrupt Russian supply chains,” Makeev said.

Ukraine is not currently pushing Germany to send fighter jets, Makeyev said, even as Berlin discusses possible aircraft deliveries with other allies.

“We are talking very precisely and meaningfully with the allies about what we need,” the Ukrainian diplomat said. “So far, I have not received any request from our Ministry of Defense for a specific type of aircraft available in Germany.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday he was in talks with allies on future security guarantees for Ukraine, without specifying what they might be.

Makeev said Ukraine welcomes the discussion of proposals for security guarantees for its post-war future.

“The best security guarantee for Ukraine is NATO membership,” Makeev said, adding that many other European countries would like some kind of security guarantee after the war is over. “Therefore, it is important for us that Russia be deprived of the possibility of waging war anywhere in the neighborhood after Ukraine’s victory in this war.”

Makeev expressed hope that most Ukrainian refugees would eventually return to help rebuild the country. Germany has taken in around 1 million refugees, and a recent poll showed that more than a third of them would like to stay outside their homeland.

Olaf Scholz is due to speak in Washington on Friday with President Joe Biden about the war in Ukraine, amid growing fears that China could start supplying arms to Russia.

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