Germany explains its stance on arming Ukraine
Germany is unable to provide Kiev with weapons at a similar pace to the United States because its resources are more limited, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz explained on Sunday, responding to allegations that his country has been “overpromising and underdelivering” when it comes to Ukraine.
In an interview with CBS News, the chancellor stressed that amid Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine his country made “a very, very hard decision” to change its long-term political strategy of never providing a country in conflict with weapons.
“Germany sent all the weapons we had in our stocks in our military infrastructure. And we decided also to deliver new weapons from our industry, which takes a longer time because they have to be produced,” he explained.
He added that certain weapons systems require the Ukrainian soldiers to be trained, which also slows down the delivery process.
The CBS interviewer then pointed out that the US sometimes provides weaponry within 48 hours “of the president signing and carrying out training,” whereas for Germany it takes much longer.
“I think you should understand that there is a difference if a country like the United States spends that much for defense, which is a very big (long pause) investment, and you have a lot of weapons at your stocks,” Scholz responded.
While Germany is sending weapons “with the means and ways” it has, the chancellor stressed, it is still “one of the countries that is doing the most” because it is sending to Kiev “the most sophisticated technology you can use.” He emphasized that Berlin was “using all the means” it has to help Ukraine and will continue to do so to avoid a peace on Russia's terms – something that, he believes, neither Ukraine nor the West will accept.
“But the most important thing is that we are not just now supporting Ukraine, we are changing the way how we spend money for defense,” Scholz said. The “big increase” in defense spending, he argued, will allow Germany to react faster if there is a threat to NATO or to its own security.
Scholz’s remarks followed a report by Foreign Policy magazine that the training provided to Ukrainian personnel has dropped off in recent weeks. Ukrainian officials cited by the magazine complained the pace of Western aid was “too slow” but also admitted that beyond training for HIMARS (high mobility artillery rocket systems) and Western artillery, military training for their troops has declined, leaving them unable to operate more advanced systems.
Russia has repeatedly urged the West not to provide Kiev with weapons, saying it will only prolong the conflict and lead to long-term problems. It has warned that Russian forces would consider any foreign weapons on Ukrainian territory to be legitimate targets. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “pumping up” Ukraine with Western weapons will only lead Russia “to perform more missions on the ground.”
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.