The chancellor did, however, announce that Germany would send Kyiv an IRIS-T air defence system
By James Rothwell. 1 June 2022 •
Olaf Scholz on Wednesday repeatedly refused to say whether he wants Ukraine to win the war, even as he announced that Berlin would provide Kyiv with anti-aircraft weapons.
After weeks of criticism over Germany’s reluctance to help Ukraine repulse the Russian invasion, the chancellor announced in an address to the Bundestag that he would send Kyiv an IRIS-T air defence system.
“It is Germany’s most modern air defence system,” Mr Scholz said. “Ukraine will be able to protect an entire city from Russian air raids.”
The IRIS-T uses infrared homing missiles to strike targets in the air.
But he fell short of saying that he wanted Ukraine to win the war, instead vowing that “we will continue to support the Ukrainians for as long as is necessary, with all the options that we have put in place”.
When confronted by Friedrich Merz, the German opposition leader, Mr Scholz stated that “Putin must not achieve his goals” and that Europe was opposed to Russian “imperialism”.
An exasperated Mr Merz, who unlike the chancellor has visited Kyiv since the outbreak of the war, responded: “Why don’t you say it … is there a second agenda?”
Mr Scholz doubled down on his refusal to state whether he wants Ukraine to win the war in a tweet following his address. He wrote: “It would be arrogant and inappropriate to talk in this country about war aims.”
“Only the Ukrainians and their President decide on the conditions for peace… our goal is that Putin doesn’t win and Ukraine can defend itself,” he added.
The terse exchange reflects major concerns among EU leaders over Germany’s languid response to the war in contrast with Britain, central European and Baltic states, who have provided Ukraine with huge amounts of weaponry and diplomatic support.
On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal cited a senior Czech official who said France and Germany’s decision to hold phone calls with Vladimir Putin was “destroying” EU unity on Ukraine.
“Every phone call, ministers from the north of Europe and central Europe are getting more and more angry,” they said. “It’s precisely what Putin wants and what the French and Germans are giving him.”
According to German media reports, Germany has not sent any significant weapons to Ukraine in weeks and has so far failed to deliver Leopard tanks to Warsaw to replace tanks delivered from Poland to Ukraine.
Mr Scholz says that Germany has already provided Ukraine with around 5,000 anti-tank mines, tens of thousands of hand grenades and millions of rounds of ammunition.