Heavy weapons for Ukraine? 5 things you should know about deliveries

A demonstrator demands heavy weapons for Ukraine in protest of Russia’s war of aggression.Photo: dpa/Paul tines


01/06/2022, 09:2106/01/2022, 10:30 AM

Rebecca Sawicki

By a large majority of 586 votes in favour, the German Bundestag voted on April 28 to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons. It’s been over a month now. However, deliveries are not really progressing.

What are the current problems? What cash is there? Watson clarifies the most important questions for you.

What happened to the ring exchange?

The two sides of the circular exchange disagree on the question: Poland accuses Germany of violating its word. Germany believes the exchange is more complex than expected. The original plan was for the former Soviet countries to supply Ukraine with Soviet military equipment, especially heavy weapons. Germany, in turn, will have to pay for it or provide new equipment. The idea behind it: Ukrainian soldiers won’t have to be specially trained in well-known Soviet military equipment, such as the Panzerhaubitze 2000.

So far, so good.

Or not, because so far the exchange of rings has not worked, at least with Poland: the neighboring country gave Ukraine large numbers of military equipment and tanks, but Germany did not fill the gaps in stocks again. So Polish President Andrzej Duda accuses the federal government of violating its word.

Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Polish President Andrzej Duda.Photo: KEYSTONE/GIAN EHRENZELLER

In an interview with Welt TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the head of the NATO partner country indicated Berlin’s commitment to deliver tanks to replace the tanks delivered by Poland to Ukraine. “She did not deliver on that promise,” Duda added, referring to the federal government. “And frankly, we are very disappointed.”

From the German point of view, the problem, according to the Spiegel report, is that the stock of the German armed forces cannot be replenished with the latest military equipment. Unlike the ring-exchange country of the Czech Republic, where the three-way exchange has already worked, Poland insists on the latest Western war equipment in exchange for Soviet tanks.

According to the Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk, the declared exchange of T-72 tanks for Ukraine from Slovenia has not yet succeeded.

A ring exchange with Greece was also negotiated. This was reported by Focus Online. Greece now delivers old tanks from Soviet stocks to Ukraine.

What weapons have been delivered and which are missing?

Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, there has been talk in Germany about the delivery of war equipment. First, there were 500 helmets that the Ministry of Defense wanted to send to Ukraine. But over time, material support made more sense. Germany was already supplying light weapons – bazookas, anti-aircraft missiles, machine guns and ammunition.

Meanwhile, the German army also began training Ukrainian soldiers for the Panzerhaubitze 2000. 18 crews will be trained to deliver German-Dutch weapons to the country attacked by Russia, according to the German news agency (dpa) in mid-May.

Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (Social Democratic Party).

Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (Social Democratic Party).Photo: Imago Pictures / Imago Pictures

As the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag” reported at the end of May, with reference to the editors of the available documents, it is said that shipments of German weapons – including light equipment – have been few in the past nine weeks. Between March 30 and May 26, only two shipments of weapons from the federal government arrived in Ukraine.

As the newspaper reported, the last delivery of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons was more than two months ago. It included 2,000 Panzerfaust 3 missiles and 1,500 Strela anti-aircraft missiles. The term “Welt am Sonntag” refers to data from Ukraine.

The German government has so far promised to supply two types of heavy weapons: 50 Gibbard anti-aircraft vehicles and seven 2,000 self-propelled howitzers. The latter are heavy artillery pieces. However, Ukraine also claims combat tanks, armored personnel carriers, multiple launchers, or anti-ship missiles.

Ukrainian Ambassador Melnik criticized the fact that neither Gebbard nor Leopard 1 or Marder tanks have yet been delivered. So none of the heavy weapons required.

Chancellor Schulz has now announced the delivery of modernized air defense systems. Whether these systems are considered heavy weapons depends on the models. Not all anti-aircraft systems are heavy weapons.

Where is the current problem?

However, the delivery of heavy weapons may now be faltering – Chancellor Olaf Schultz refuses to deliver German battle tanks and armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. He asserts that France and the United States have also not been supplied with heavy Western tanks.

Chancellor Olaf Schulz (Social Democratic Party) at the EU Special Summit.

Chancellor Olaf Schulz (Social Democratic Party) at the EU Special Summit.Photo: Imago Pictures / Imago Pictures

Parliamentary Defense Minister Simtje Mueller also said on ZDF channel that the “unified position” of Western NATO member states is not to provide Western-style armored personnel carriers or main battle tanks. As a result, speculation has arisen that there may be informal NATO agreements regarding arms deliveries to Ukraine. Speculation has been expanded to include the Vladimir Putin factor: the internal agreement in the NATO executive wing aims to avoid provoking the head of the Kremlin. Prevent active entry into war.

Since these are potential informal agreements, speculation is one thing above all: not guaranteed.

What is the truth about rumors about internal NATO agreements?

As the dpa agreement was emphasized in the alliance circles in Brussels, the informal agreements are aimed at keeping the risks of direct military confrontation between NATO countries and Russia as low as possible. It is feared, for example, that Russia will officially see the delivery of Western battle tanks and fighter planes enter the war and then take retaliatory military action. Weapon systems of this type were not delivered to Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.Photo: AA/Dursun Aydemir

The federal government has also confirmed that there have been informal discussions about what can and should not be handed over. This was reported by “Tagspiegel”. Meanwhile, a NATO spokesperson commented only in general terms on the subject. All extradition decisions are a matter for individual Member States.

In a private meeting of the Defense Committee, Chancellor Schultz answered questions from deputies. It is possible that this conversation is also about internal agreements. The head of the SPD in the Defense Committee, Wolfgang Helmich, is said to have said publicly in front of the hall door that it was clear, for example, that Leopard battle tanks would not be delivered. This was reported by “Tagspiegel”. According to the German news agency (dpa), these Leopard tanks belong to the class of weapons systems that NATO countries should not deliver to Ukraine.

However, the content of the conversation in the Defense Committee was lost due to the actions of politician Marcus Faber of the Free Democratic Party. This and two other FDP deputies left the meeting prematurely. As Faber said afterwards, as an act of protest.

After losing the elections in North Rhine-Westphalia a few days after the scandal in the Defense Committee FDP leader Christian Lindner called on his party to exercise coalition discipline. The Traffic Lights Alliance wasn’t a dream wedding, but it was good for the country. As the Handelsblatt newspaper reported, the finance minister called on his party’s friends for “predictable government action”.

What is coalition discipline?

The discipline of the alliance is not to cut off the alliance partners politically and to make decisions and compromises together. Alliances come to power through a treaty that defines common goals.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), Foreign Minister Annallina Barbuk (Green), Chancellor Olaf Schulz (SPD) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) before the start of coalition negotiations.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), Foreign Minister Annallina Barbuk (Green), Chancellor Olaf Schulz (SPD) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) before the start of coalition negotiations.Photo: Imago Pictures/Chris Emil Janssen

Within each faction there is also a faction discipline. In Germany, members of parliament are bound by their conscience, so there is no partisan coercion. This means that all members of the parliamentary group will have to vote as one. Part of group discipline, however, is upholding the opinion of the group. This is the only way for a parliamentary group to show unity and the ability to win a majority.

The same applies to coalition discipline: MEPs from traffic light groups are not obligated, but too many cross shots can damage controllability.

(with material from dpa)

The President of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has warned of the spread of the omicron variant BA.5 in Germany in light of the increasing number of coronavirus infections in Portugal. “Corona is not over yet – and this is proven by the violent outbreak of Omicron in Portugal,” said Montgomery of the Rheinische Post. (Tuesday edition).

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