Amidst Germany’s lukewarm response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany will now supply Ukraine with its IRIS-T air defense system to help Ukraine repel constant Russian shelling and Russian fighter jets in its fight to secure the Donbas region from advancing Russian forces.
Following continued pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for more weapons, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz finally heeds their call and stepped up its deliveries of heavy weapons to Kyiv. Germany has been in hot water with the international community and their own opposition parties in Berlin for not pulling its weight in the now four-month-old war, with Scholz not wanting to send offensive weaponry to Ukraine.
In another apparent shift from its foreign policy of not sending weapons to active warzones, the chancellor has since announced that it will send the IRIS-T and radar systems to help the Ukrainian armed forces locate enemy positions and artillery.
“Most recently, the government has decided that we will deliver the most modern air defense system that Germany has in the form of the IRIS-T,” Scholz said. According to him, this system can protect “an entire major city” from Russian air attacks.
“We have been delivering continuously since the beginning of the war,” he added, saying that Germany has already given Ukraine some 15 million rounds of ammunition, 5,000 anti-tank mines, and 100,000 hand grenades. Furthermore, the German chancellor also pledged to provide Ukraine with unspecified multiple rocket launchers following the US’ decision to send its very own MLRS a few days ago. Four German rocket launchers would be sent according to the chancellor, but no further details were given.
It was recently revealed that the US would be sending the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to Ukraine after debates on whether to send the M270 MLRS. The M142 is a formidable rocket system that can definitely help Ukraine strike Russian positions with precision and accuracy. Its range reaches up to 300 miles away, depending on what type of rocket is used. However, the US has said that it will only equip Ukraine with rockets that have only a 48-mile range to prevent it from striking targets in Russia.
A US official further said that they will be sending “munitions that will enable the Ukrainians to strike targets on the battlefield from a greater distance more precisely” and that “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”
These HIMARS and munitions are reportedly part of a $700 million aid package for Ukraine, a package that will be announced on Wednesday. Sources revealed that this military aid would include air surveillance radars, Javelins, spare parts, helicopters, and the like.
While Germany has initially announced the donation, the delivery of weaponry is another issue. Last month, Germany offered to send 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, with German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announcing it to the international community through Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during the first meeting of nations supporting Kyiv in Ramstein.
But the transfer was somewhat halted as the Swiss, who produced the ammunition for the Gepard, blocked the transfer of ammunition of the Gepard’s 35mm guns. Berlin has also promised to give Ukraine 7 Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH) Howitzers. However, the delivery of these howitzers is currently an unknown status, with Scholz saying that the Ukrainians need to be further trained to use the Gepard. So far, both weapons have not been reported to be used in Ukraine, more so weapons from the US and other countries who have pledged to donate have already been received by the Ukrainian government. This in itself indicates Germany’s hesitance to deliver their weapons.
As a result, Scholz is increasingly being branded as an indecisive and lacking leader, especially during times of critical emergencies. A poll in Germany showed that more than 54% of the German public were dissatisfied with how he is handling the current crisis, with his approval rating falling to 32% in the same survey. In some circles, people favor Green Vice-Chancellor of Germany Robert Habeck as the “better chancellor.”
“His party is plummeting, but the chancellor feels he has done everything right. Doubts and questions rain down on him, but Olaf simply sits tight,” the Spiegel Magazine said.
Needless to say, the international community has also been frustrated with the lukewarm actions of the German chancellor, with Polish President Andrzej Duda criticizing Scholz for not fulfilling its promise of replacing Polish tanks that were donated to Ukraine.
“If we were supported by our German allies with tanks to replace those ones we gave to Ukraine, we’d be very grateful,” Duda said. “We had such a promise. We hear Germany isn’t ready to fulfill it.”
Sending four rocket artillery systems to Ukraine strikes us Germany making press headlines without actually doing much to support Ukraine in a significant way. Europe and Germany itself have a vast arms industry that makes everything Ukraine could possibly need on the battlefield. So far the grand total of European arms sent to Ukraine.is about one-tenth of the assistance provided by the US.