Germany isolated as West sends heavy arms to defend Ukraine

Olaf Scholz refuses to join international coalition resupplying Kyiv’s forces to resist Russian offensive on Donbas.

BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT and IN BERLIN. 19 April 2022 •

Scholz

Olaf Scholz said Germany would not ‘go it alone’ on weapons, and any decisions would be made in close cooperation with ‘friends and allies’ CREDIT: Clemens Bilan/Pool/Getty Images

Germany on Tuesday night refused to join an international coalition in sending heavy weaponry to Ukraine as the country entered a new phase of the war against Russia.

Olaf Scholz, the chancellor, said that while Germany was willing to give financial aid, he was not prepared to export tanks and armoured personnel carriers to Kyiv.

Mr Scholz said Germany would not “go it alone” on weapons, and that any decisions would be made in close cooperation with “friends and allies”.

The refusal came as the UK and US prepared to ship Nato-standard weapons to Kyiv in response to demands for more firepower to repel the Russian offensive on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Joe Biden, the US president, has announced that Howitzer artillery cannons will be part of Washington’s next delivery to Ukraine, while Boris Johnson said Britain would send “more artillery” to ensure that Vladimir Putin “fails comprehensively”.

The UK is preparing to send Stormer missile launchers, it was reported, which would help Ukrainians defend against attacks by low-flying Russian aircraft. 

Mr Johnson said Britain was also considering sending Brimstone anti-ship missiles, adding: “One of the systems that we’re looking at… is to see if we could mount some Brimstones on the back of technical [vehicles] to see if that will do the job.

“This will become an artillery conflict – they need support with more artillery, that is what we will be giving them in addition to many other forms of support.”

British forces deployed the Brimstone missile system in Libya and Afghanistan. Described as the “most accurate precision strike product on the market”, they are usually strapped to fighter jets, from which they can hit targets from seven miles away.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, has pleaded for more weaponry to support his troops in their next major battle against the Russian invaders, which experts have said could be the largest and bloodiest tank battle since the Second World War.

Other European nations joined Britain and America in promising to send the equipment Mr Zelensky had requested to repel the offensive on the Donbas.

The Czech Republic has agreed to send Soviet-designed T-72 tanks and BVP-1 infantry vehicles to Ukraine, while Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, pledged to provide armoured vehicles. Slovakia had already sent Soviet-era S-300 air defence missile systems and is in talks with allies to provide MiG-29 fighter jets to support the Ukrainian resistance.

In recent weeks, Nato and the EU’s most senior officials have urged member states to ramp up military support for Ukraine.

Following a call with fellow Western leaders including Mr Johnson and Mr Biden, Mr Scholz asked Western governments to supply Ukraine with weapons that were “available immediately” instead of backing shipments of Nato-standard supplies.

In recent days, Berlin blocked an offer by Rheinmetall, a German defence manufacturer, to supply 50 refurbished Leopard 1 tanks – considered superior to former Soviet models – to Ukraine.

Opposition MPs criticised Mr Scholz for refusing to increase Berlin’s support. “Never before has Germany been so isolated and apathetic in an international crisis,” said Hendrik Wust, the regional chief minister of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Germany, which has close economic ties with Russia and relies on it for much of its energy, has been unwilling to back Western attempts, including tougher sanctions on fossil fuels, to aid Ukraine.

The West on Tuesday appeared divided over how to respond to Mr Zelensky’s plea.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, was silent after the call and did not commit to expanding shipments of anti-tank missiles, rifles or body armour to Ukraine. Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister, also refused to commit to extend his offer of military aid to heavy weaponry.

In contrast to his European allies, Mr Johnson used the call to stress the “critical need” for Kyiv to be given further lethal aid as it faces the new Russian offensive in the east.

Following the call, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The leaders agreed to work together to find a long-term security solution so that Ukraine could never be attacked in this way again.

“They discussed the need to increase the pressure on Russia with more sanctions against Putin’s war machine, as well as further diplomatic isolation.”

Separately, the Foreign Office last night launched an urgent investigation into a suspected cyber hack after personal information about government employees appeared on Russian social media sites. 

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We do not comment on security matters.”

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson vowed to maintain his support for Ukraine as he warned there would be “no easy way” to find a diplomatic end to the conflict.

Meanwhile, Russian troops on Tuesday claimed early success in their offensive in eastern Ukraine after seizing the first village to fall to their assault.

Russia took control of the village of Kreminna, in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, on Tuesday afternoon in a small but significant advance towards Ukrainian strongholds in the region.

Families hiding underground in besieged Mariupol claimed the the lack of sunlight was making their children ill as Russian forces were accused of using “bunker buster” bombs.

It came as Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, was urged to ban a number of high-profile British libel lawyersfrom travelling to America as punishment for representing Russian oligarchs.

4 comments

  1. At least 500,000 Ukrainians, including 121,000 children, have already been kidnapped and forcibly transferred to Russian territory.
    Such actions by the Russian invaders can be qualified as kidnapping and require a resolute response by the international community.
    In addition to genocide, this is yet another staggering crime by a nazi regime hiding in plain sight.
    Any European or North American country, company or business entity doing business with nazi Russia must face a fine of 1% of GDP or 10% of turnover.
Unless Germany immediately stops buying gas from the putinazis, it must be declared to be a hostile regime and face crushing sanctions.
In fact we should be prepared to go to war with them if necessary.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Commenter John Heaps says :

    “The gas is still flowing through the pipelines across Europe. The oil is still being unloaded at the refineries. And €800m a day is being sent straight to Moscow.
    Germany and to a lesser extent Italy are effectively funding Vladimir Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine. Shelling of innocent civilians, mass rapes, and the destruction of whole cities is being financed by European consumers and industry.
    True, Germany is debating cutting off the gas. It is setting targets for winding up the payments to Russia and exploring alternative supplies that would keep the lights switched on.
    And yet for now it has decided the cost to German industry would be too high. That is completely unacceptable. If the Germans don’t want to make that sacrifice, it is up to them. Yet there is no reason why the rest of the world should tolerate that. The moment is surely close for sanctions to be imposed on Germany.”

    Commenter Graham Manley says:

    “Very simply, Germany wants Russia to defeat Ukraine so they can go back to business as usual with Russia. And Germany has the greatest influence and power over the EU in all matters political and financial, so don’t expect the EU commission to act differently.”

    Commenter Robert Downham says :

    “The emergence of a Russian-German-Chinese axis, a new world order.”

    Commenter Derek Scott says:

    “Is it really “German isolated” or is it as usual Germany win win?
    Germany intends clearly to maintain it’s relations with Russia and there will be large dividends for them once the war eventually stops. There is also going to be a massive rebuilding programme required in Ukraine, funded no doubt by Western Europe including Britain, but it will be German industry that will reap the orders.
    Meanwhile back in deindustrialised blighty, we don’t have any industrial capacity to take advantage of any more, but do seemingly have the capacity to fall out with nearly every major country in the world. At least our industry has nothing left to lose though.”

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Is anyone really surprised by Germany’s response? I’m only surprised when they actually help. The German should be ashamed of themselves but they’re not. That’s the tragedy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • IMO it is the German leadership, the protests from the people of Germany were quite remarkable. Its the elites in Germany that worship money and don’t want any inconvenience to help Ukraine. Or they are straight up appeasers that foolishly believe trade will prevent war.

      Liked by 1 person

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