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Germany, Portugal Send Howitzers to Ukraine, Scholz Promises More Weapons

After long debates in Germany, Berlin has finally agreed that they should support the provision of heavy weapons to Ukraine by sending 7 Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH) Howitzers to repel advancing troops in the Donbas region effectively. Portugal is also reportedly sending its own howitzers to Ukraine to help repel Russian forces.

Through Twitter, the German Defense Ministry formally announced the transfer last May 6th along with German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht the next day.

“Germany will deliver 7 howitzers to Ukraine in 2000. That is what Minister Lambrecht has decided,” they stated. “With this, we add the 5 Dutch howitzers to 12.” They also indicated that there was training to be done with some 20 Ukrainian troops in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, that would start this week. The PzH Howitzers are known to be one of the “most powerful tube artillery systems in the world” and have a cannon that can fire up to 25 miles away.

An Italian Army PzH 2000, self-propelled Howitzer on October 17, 2015 during Trident Juncture 15. - NATO Local Pao Capo Teulada Esercitazione (Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Italian_Army_PzH_2000,_Trident_Juncture_15_(22308908409).jpg
An Italian Army PzH 2000 self-propelled Howitzer on October 17, 2015, during Trident Juncture 15. – NATO Local Pao Capo Teulada Esercitazione (Allied Joint Force Command BrunssumCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

This development comes after the German parliament last April 28th had agreed to boost military support for Kyiv and had warned China and Serbia about supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. German lawmakers unanimously passed their resolution on comprehensive support for Ukraine, with German politicians voting 586 in favor and 100 against. This resolution included providing Ukraine with “heavy weapons” and “complex systems.”

The German Parliament also called for China to abandon its support and endorsement of the war and even said that if there were any efforts to undermine the sanctions and weapons supply to Ukraine, economic and personal sanctions await them.

Ukraine was very much happy about the policy shift. Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak stated that the German vote would “go down in history as one of the last nails in the coffin of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s lobbying in Europe and as the return of German leadership.”

Previous reports from Germany indicated that they were hesitant to send heavy, offensive weapons to Ukraine as they feared it would be interpreted as an act of war by Russia. This policy shift first manifested when Germany had announced that they were going to send 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine last April 27th, where the county had been heavily pressured to do so following the US-led defense meeting held at Ramstein Air Base.

A Gepard Anti-aircraft tank firing at Hohwacht Bay (DerwatzCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

In our previous report, we stated that the German government, headed by Scholz, was to deliver 50 Gepard (Cheetah) anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine in what was to be the first delivery of German heavy weapons to Ukraine. These weapons could have been great for Ukraine’s battle against Russia, as Kyiv needs to secure its skies as soon as possible in light of Russia’s combined arms operations. Despite this, the Russian forces have had limited success in Eastern Ukraine thus far, revealing integral and fundamental weaknesses with the Kremlin armed forces.

However, the Swiss, which produced the ammunition for the Gepard’s 35mm guns, blocked the transfer of the ammunition itself, leaving the Gepard tanks useless if they were to be transferred to Kyiv. This raises questions as to whether the Germans already knew this and made the offer in bad faith, knowing that the absence of ammunition would make them useless to Ukraine.

“Both inquiries by Germany as to whether the ammunition received from Switzerland may be transferred to Ukraine were answered in the negative concerning Swiss neutrality and the mandatory rejection criteria of Swiss war material legislation,” the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, amid the foreign policy shift, said that Germany would be continuing to support Ukraine by sending more heavy weapons as he claimed they had a “historical responsibility” to help the Ukrainians fight for their territory.

“We have learned a central lesson from the disastrous history of our country between 1933 and 1945,” Scholz stated. “No more war. No more genocide. No more tyranny.”

“In the present situation, that can mean only one thing: we defend justice and freedom at the side of the victim. We support Ukraine in its fight against the aggressor.” He said that not helping Zelensky and Ukraine would be as if they were submitting to “brute force” by the Russians.

These words were explicitly against the Russians, a significant turn of rhetoric from the German chancellor as opposed to his earlier statements of caution toward not further escalating tensions with Russia, from which their country relies upon for gas.

Scholz said that the concerns that the war would spread were valid as the Germans now appreciate the peace they enjoy in their country. But he also said that “fear must not paralyze us” while insisting that he was not willing to do anything that would drag NATO into the Russo-Ukrainian war.

M-113 APC (Vaidas V, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:M-113_Parade.JPG
M-113 APC (Vaidas VCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

In another instance of weapons deliveries to Ukraine, Portugal has also decided to send offensive weapons to Ukraine. It was determined by the SOL publication that the Portuguese government was going to donate five units of 155mm M114 howitzers and 15 M113 tracked armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. This comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had asked Portugal to give them more heavy and powerful weapons, specifically asking for Leopard 2 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

With these weapon systems en route to Ukraine, Russian advances will be further thwarted despite some of the weapons’ age. In light of this news, Europe, which had been lagging in its military support for Ukraine, should keep supplying Kyiv with more support and weaponry in the coming months of fighting.

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