Germany will step up weapon deliveries to Ukraine by sending modern air defense missiles and radar systems “in the coming weeks,” the country’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced Wednesday.
Scholz has been facing sharp criticism for months, with allies in Germany and abroad blaming him for not delivering sufficient arms to Ukraine, especially when it comes to heavier weapons like tanks. On Wednesday morning, he told the German parliament that his government would send more weapons, such as IRIS-T missiles that can engage enemy aircraft.
“It’s the most modern air defense system that Germany has. This will enable Ukraine to protect an entire city from Russian air raids,” the chancellor said.
“We will also supply Ukraine with a state-of-the-art tracking radar that will detect enemy howitzers, mortars and rocket artillery,” he added.
Scholz said that the German weapon deliveries had been closely coordinated with the United States, whose President Joe Biden had published an op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday in which he vowed to increase arms supply to Ukraine but ruled out delivering weapons that could strike targets within Russia.
“We have been in talks with the U.S. for days and discussed with them that we will contribute what is within our technical capabilities,” the chancellor said.
Scholz further said that 12 Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers, which Germany is providing together with the Netherlands, will be supplied to Ukraine in the coming weeks, with training of Ukrainian soldiers on those artillery pieces to be completed “within days.” Germany will also send at least 15 units of Gepard air-defense tanks to Ukraine in July along with training.
The Gepard tank “is a highly efficient, very heavy weapon … that has been requested by Ukraine,” he said, adding that Berlin would supply an initial ammunition stock of 59,000 rounds, which would be “enough for 1,200 combat operations.”
To further counter critics who say he is too reluctant to arm Ukraine, Scholz said that Germany had already delivered thousands of anti-tank and anti-air missiles, 15 million rounds of ammunition, 100,000 hand grenades, over 5,000 anti-tank mines, explosives, machine guns, drone defenses, communication tools and medical equipment as well as 54 modernized armored troop carriers, which were delivered in cooperation with Denmark.
Scholz also referred to German efforts to enable a “Ringtausch” tank swap with the Czech Republic, which had led to Prague sending 20 T-72 main battle tanks of Soviet origin to Ukraine. He also referred to a similar deal that is in the works with Greece.