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11 Sep, 2023 19:46

Ukrainian FM taunts German counterpart over missiles

“It’s just a matter of time” before Berlin caves and sends Kiev long-range cruise missiles, Dmitry Kuleba told Annalena Baerbock
Ukrainian FM taunts German counterpart over missiles

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has ridiculed Germany’s professed concerns about arming his country with long-range missiles, telling Berlin’s top diplomat to her face that “You will do it anyway. It’s just a matter of time.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Kiev on Monday, Kuleba was asked whether his meeting with Baerbock gave him “any hope” that Berlin could donate Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missiles to Ukraine in the near future.

“No. I wouldn’t say that Annalena went beyond the official position of the German government,” he replied. Turning to Baerbock, Kuleba then said “you will do it anyway. It’s just a matter of time.”

“We respect your discussions, we respect your procedures, but…there is not a single objective argument against doing it. The sooner it happens, the more it will be appreciated.”

Similar in design to the British Storm Shadow and French SCALP-EG – both of which have already been supplied to Ukraine, the Taurus KEPD 350 can carry a 500-kilogram warhead over a distance of about 500 kilometers  (300 miles). German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been reluctant to hand the missiles over to Kiev for fear that they will be used to strike deep behind Russia’s borders, thus escalating the conflict.

Although recent media reports suggest that Scholz is in talks with arms manufacturer MBDA regarding modifying the Taurus to limit its range, Baerbock said on Friday that getting the missiles into Ukrainian hands “is not something that can be done quickly.”

Kuleba pledged last month that Ukraine would use Taurus and American ATACMS missiles “solely inside our borders.” However, Kiev has already used Storm Shadow and Scalp-EG missiles to strike civilian infrastructure in the Russian regions of Donetsk and Crimea.

Kuleba has laughed off Germany’s reluctance to provide certain kinds of weaponry before. After Scholz ruled out the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine in January, Kuleba told reporters that “Germany will do it anyway at a later date. We have already seen this with the self-propelled howitzers, with the IRIS-T anti-aircraft system and most recently with the Marder and Patriot systems.”

Scholz authorized the transfer of five aging East German warplanes to Ukraine from Poland three months later, after he also backtracked on his initial refusal to supply Kiev with tanks and armored fighting vehicles.

Moscow has repeatedly warned the West that no amount of missiles, tanks, or other weaponry will prevent Russia from achieving the goals of its military operation in Ukraine. Instead, such arms deliveries will only prolong the bloodshed while making Western powers direct participants in the conflict, the Kremlin has declared.