German report casts doubt on scale of its weapons support for Ukraine

German report casts doubt on scale of its weapons support for Ukraine

The office of Germany’s chancellor crossed several heavy weapons off a wishlist of military hardware it has offered to buy from its armaments industry on behalf of the Ukrainian government, according to a report in German media that casts doubt over Olaf Scholz’s claim to have agreed the procurement process with Kyiv.

At a press conference on Tuesday evening, Scholz said he had asked arms contractors to come up with a list of weapons systems it could swiftly deliver to boost Ukraine’s defensive effort after Germany’s military exhausted its own stocks.

“Ukraine has now made a selection from this list and we will provide it with the required money for the purchase,” Scholz said.

According to a report in the German newspaper Bild on Thursday, the industry’s offer in mid-March still included several heavy weapons Kyiv says it will need to withstand Russia’s offensive in the country’s east, including armoured Boxer transport vehicles, the Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000 artillery system, and the Leopard 2 battle tank manufactured by Munich-based defence company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

By the time the list, headed “Support options industry – consolidated”, was submitted to the Ukrainian government at the end of March, Bild said it had shrunk from 48 to 24 pages and only included three of 15 types of arms requested by Kyiv. Two follow-up requests by the Ukrainian government on 9 and 16 April were reportedly ignored by the German side.

The report is likely to add further fuel to a diplomatic row in which Scholz’s coalition government says it is doing everything within its means to help Ukraine withstand Russia’s assault, while Ukrainian diplomats accuse Berlin of stalling on arms shipments out of fear of provoking Putin into escalating the war.

The list of industry products that Germany says it will pay for does include some modern machinery such as radar systems, remote-controlled weapons stations that can be mounted on Ukrainian tanks, and armoured transport vehicles.

The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, on Wednesday said cryptically that her government had in the past chosen not to make public all of its weapons exports to Ukraine.

“We have delivered anti-tank missiles, Stingers and other things that we have never spoken about publicly, so these deliveries could happen quickly,” she said.

Citing anonymous government sources, Bloomberg reported that Germany would provide Ukrainian troops with training and ammunition for the PzH 2000, a self-propelled, rapid-fire artillery system, which the Netherlands is sending to Ukraine. Scholz had not mentioned the arrangement with the Netherlands in his speech on Tuesday.

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