Germany issues update on long-range rockets for Ukraine
Germany still has no plans to provide long-range Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit has insisited. His clarification came in the wake of deadly tit-for-tat rocket and drone attacks between Kiev's and Moscow's forces. Berlin has for months refused to supply the weaponry, citing a risk of uncontrollable escalation.
Since the UK and France agreed to ship a similar type of rocket to Ukraine in May and July of 2023, President Vladimir Zelensky’s administration has increasingly been pressuring Germany to follow suit.
Russia has consistently denounced the delivery of ever-more powerful Western weaponry to Kiev. Moscow insists that such shipments only serve to unnecessarily prolong the bloodshed, without changing the outcome of the conflict.
The German-made Taurus missile carries a 500-kilogram warhead and has a range of about 500 kilometers (300 miles).
Speaking on Wednesday, Hebestreit confirmed that Germany would continue to back Ukraine, and “deliver everything that is possible and responsible.” When asked by reporters whether this could include Taurus missiles, the government spokesperson merely said there was “no new position” on the issue, and that deliberations were still underway.
A spokesperson for the German Defense Ministry, for his part, stressed that the country “has no deficits to show,” especially when it comes to supporting Ukrainian air defenses.
In his New Year interview to the Economist published on Monday, President Zelensky said that cutting off Crimea from mainland Russia would be one of Kiev’s top priorities in 2024. The official renewed calls for Germany to provide Taurus missiles, arguing that the weapon could help Ukraine achieve its goal.
Speaking at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Kiev back in September, her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba appeared to ridicule Berlin’s refusal to arm his country with the long-range rockets.
He turned to the German minister and told her it was “just a matter of time” before her country would acquiesce.
Commenting on Kuleba’s remarks at the time, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius denounced them as “out of line.”
While some politicians within Germany have also criticized Chancellor Scholz over his refusal to deliver Taurus missiles to Ukraine, there are political forces in the country, including the right-wing Alternative for Germany and the Left party, that have consistently opposed the shipment of any arms to Kiev.