Exclusive: France and Germany evaded arms embargo to sell weapons to Russia

Paris and Berlin sent Moscow £230m of military hardware, including bombs, rockets and missiles, that is likely being used in Ukraine.

BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT ; and 22 April 2022 • 9:30pm

Three corrupt rats plotting against President Zelenskyy

France and Germany armed Russia with €273 million (£230 million) of military hardware now likely being used in Ukraine, an EU analysis shared with The Telegraph has revealed.

They sent equipment, which included bombs, rockets, missiles and guns, to Moscow despite an EU-wide embargo on arms shipments to Russia, introduced in the wake of its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The European Commission was this month forced to close a loophole in its blockade after it was found that at least 10 member states exported almost €350 million (£294 million) in hardware to Vladimir Putin’s regime. Some 78 per cent of that total was supplied by German and French firms.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, has faced fierce criticism this week for his reluctance to provide heavy weapons to Ukraine. Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to negotiate with Putin have seen the French president accused of appeasement.

Both Paris and Berlin have resisted an EU ban on buying gas from Russia, with the bloc currently paying Moscow €1 billion (£840 million) per dayfor energy supplies.

The EU report emerged as a top Russian commander said Moscow had expanded its goals to take “full control” of southern Ukraine, as well as the eastern Donbas region.

Russian forces would create a land bridge to Crimea and could push as far as the border of Moldova, said Major General Rustam Minnekayev, the deputy commander of the Russian central military district.

In New Delhi, Boris Johnson on Friday warned that Russia could still win the war, announcing plans to send British tanks to Poland so that Ukraine could receive Warsaw’s Soviet-era T-72 models.

Asked if Russia could win the war in Ukraine, the Prime Minister conceded it was a “realistic possibility” and that Moscow was very close to seizing Mariupol.

On Friday, Putin told Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, that the marines holed up in the city’s Azovstal steel plant would be allowed to live if they surrendered.

Meanwhile, Mr Scholz pointed to the threat of nuclear war as he sought to answer critics over Berlin’s reluctance to provide Ukraine with high-powered arms.

Criticism increased when it emerged that German firms had used a loophole in an EU embargo on arms exports to Russia, making sales worth €121 million (£107 million) of “dual-use” equipment, including rifles and special protection vehicles, to Moscow.

Berlin defended its use of an ambiguity within the EU’s 2014 arms blockade, insisting that the goods were sold only after the Kremlin guaranteed they were for civilian use, rather than military application.

“If there were indications of any kind of military use, the export licenses were not granted,” a spokesman for the country’s economy ministry added.

France was also found to have been responsible for sending shipments worth €152 million (£128 million) to Russia, as part of 76 export licences. Paris allowed exporters to fulfil contracts agreed before 2014, using a backdoor technicality in the EU embargo.

Alongside bombs, rockets and torpedoes, French firms sent thermal imaging cameras for more than 1,000 Russian tanks as well as navigation systems for fighter jets and attack helicopters.

Since the start of the invasion on Feb 24, the EUhas introduced further restrictions on the export of dual-use items to Moscow, closing the loophole.

However, it took the bloc until its fifth package of sanctions, described as the most draconian ever introduced by Brussels, until the exemption on previously agreed arms sales to Russia was scrapped.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor
Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, was criticised this week for his reluctance to provide heavy weapons to Ukraine CREDIT: Clemens Bilan/Pool/Getty Images

The French government did not comment on its use of the exemption, but has previously defended the “grandfather” clause.

The loophole, eventually closed on April 8, was only shut after mounting protests from Baltic and eastern member states.

Envoys from Poland and Lithuania ensured the text of the original 2014 arms embargo was amended when it emerged weapons were still pouring into Russia.

According to European Commission data, EU countries last year sold Russia weapons and ammunition worth €39 million (£33 million) as the Kremlin prepared for its invasion of Ukraine.

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons defence committee, said that all Nato member states should have to declare they are not sending arms to Russia at the Madrid summit in June.

“If we agree Russia now presents an existential threat to European security, then there is no excuse for any European country to continue supplying Russia arms,” he said.

Admiral Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, said: “Using loopholes to avoid the EU arms embargo of Russia post the Crimean invasion is effectively a crime and breathtakingly stupid.”

A senior EU source added: “It’s time for France and Germany to wake up and get real.”

Cristian Terhes, the Romanian MEP who shared the EU analysis, said: “While Ukraine is desperately crying out for weapons to defend itself from Putin’s invasion, Germany and France are silent, but were happy enough to quietly and disgracefully sell their wares to Moscow.”

The EU report followed probes last month into Europe’s worst offenders for weapons exports to Russia by Disclose and Investigate Europe, two investigative news websites.

As well as Germany and France, Italy was responsible for sending arms worth €22.5 million (£19 million) to Moscow after the EU embargo was imposed, while Britain made sales of €2.4 million (£2 million).

Austria, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic exported €49.3 million (£41 million) between them in arms to Russia between 2015 and 2022.

9 comments

  1. Germany and France run the EU. The EU is putler’s biggest collaborator.
    How would the frogs and krauts like to have their women raped, their homes blown to shit, their children kidnapped and entire families murdered?
    They fucking deserve it.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Why? Is it the money? Is it the desire to help Putler? Why do these two fucking moron countries sell such items to a warmonger, human rights violator, murderer, rapist, thieving trash country?
    I expect every decent man and woman to boycott German and French products, regardless of what it is. If those two shit countries desire profits so much, this is the best punishment. If they disregard Western values for some reason, this measure is a righteous one.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s right! No more French Fries for me 😉 I will get Belgium waffles instead! Seriously though, these two have now shown they are both corrupt and greedy. Yet they claim it is Ukraine that is corrupt. They corrupted NATO too. And I doubt they have any idea how much worldwide damage they caused. Starting with the reputation of democracies during a time when autocracies are making a comeback.

      Liked by 2 people

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