It was a cooling off in the heated debate. After Chancellor Olaf Scholz left the lectern in the German Bundestag on June 1, it was clear: Germany will supply Ukraine with heavy military equipment after all. Scholz described the weapons package in detail and unusually boldly.
Even the often gruff Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk rejoiced at the announcement. “We can finally say to Chancellor Scholz from the bottom of our hearts: Thank you!” he said shortly afterwards. Then he added that one could now “really speak of a turning point for Ukraine”. Only: So far, Ukraine has not received any heavy weapons directly from Germany.
So everything back to the beginning? At least the topic is by no means as cooled down as it was suggested just a week ago. According to the current data situation, Germany is in a reasonable position internationally with regard to military aid.
But the longer the Ukraine war lasts, the more these statistics falter: An update of the so-called Ukraine Support Tracker of the Institute for the World Economy (IfW) is planned for next Thursday – and it will probably again not list any heavy weapons from Germany.
Because although the course of the war does not depend solely on the actions of the Federal Republic: While according to information from Kyiv up to a hundred Ukrainian soldiers are killed every day in the dynamic trench warfare, there are problems in keeping the German promises. There are either reports of technical or logistical problems or at least unclear delivery dates for all components of the announced weapon package. An overview.
Almost two months ago, Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) announced that Ukraine would receive seven Panzerhaubitz 2000 – the Bundeswehr’s standard artillery piece. But the delivery time remains vague. From the end of June to July there is talk. A corresponding daily mirror request at the Federal Ministry of Defense has not yet been answered.
“They are urgently needed because the Russians have and are using twenty times more artillery systems,” Ambassador Melnyk told the Tagesspiegel on Thursday.
In addition, Melnyk hopes for the delivery of further tank howitzers from the Bundeswehr’s inventory: According to his information, the Bundeswehr would be quite capable of delivering many more tank howitzers 2000 quickly. “We are also requesting traffic lights to allow the purchase of 100 new self-propelled howitzers that would be available over the next few years. The corresponding offer from the armaments industry has been available to the traffic light for weeks.”
What is certain is that the septet should come from the Bundeswehr stock and from ongoing repairs by German and Dutch soldiers. Since the beginning of May, several Ukrainian soldiers have been trained at the Bundeswehr Artillery School in Idar-Oberstein.
According to the Inspector General of the German Armed Forces, Eberhard Zorn, the theory part is complete – how long the practice will take is an open question. After all: “We assume that after completing the training, both the Dutch and the German self-propelled howitzers can also be delivered immediately,” Zorn said recently in a Bundeswehr interview.
It is apparently much more complicated with the anti-aircraft missiles of the “Iris-T SLM” type. Because according to a report by “Business Insider” (BI), the showpiece of the planned German weapons package should not be ready for use until November or even December. In Kyiv, however, it is hoped “that the first system will be made available to the Ukrainian army as early as the end of October,” Ambassador Melnyk told the Tagesspiegel. “We’re really confident about that.”
According to BI, the reason for the possible delay in the delivery of the armaments from Diehl should be a lack of agreements between the federal government and Egypt, which is involved in the deal. In the medium term, Kyiv is hoping for “at least ten more such systems, including ammunition, to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities,” Melnyk told our newspaper.
The details in the BI report on “Mars II” rocket launchers are likely to irritate, if not enrage, Melnyk and his compatriots. The delivery date of the end of June that has been rumored so far has been delayed indefinitely. According to the information, the weapon systems from Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann should not only be marginally operational, but also have software problems.
Accordingly, the technology would have to be reprogrammed in order to be compatible with ammunition from the USA or Great Britain at all. In principle, Scholz had promised Ukraine four “Mars II” rocket launchers. “We expect the traffic light to quickly fulfill this promise because our troops need this weapon system most urgently to protect the Ukrainian civilian population from barbaric attacks by Russia and to break the enormous military superiority,” Melnyk told the Tagesspiegel.
The previously cultivated taboo on heavy arms deliveries fell at the end of April – that is, a month and a half ago. At that time, Defense Minister Lambrecht approved the delivery of 30 anti-aircraft tanks of the “Gepard” type. But so far nothing has happened here that would benefit the Ukrainian army at the front. However, this is also due to the fact that the vehicles, which also come from Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann, still have to be repaired.
More on the Ukraine war on Tagesspiegel Plus:
The anti-aircraft tanks that have already been decommissioned are currently being repaired. As with the self-propelled howitzers, “it will be the case that we will (have) completely restored them in July and then the second series in August, and will then offer and also deliver these vehicles,” announced Germany’s highest-ranking military Zorn recently in the Bundeswehr video channel. If everything goes according to plan, Ukraine will soon receive “cheetah” packages of 15 vehicles each.
However, there is also a catch here: The ammunition of 59,000 rounds procured so far is far from sufficient. That is why the federal government is now in talks with Brazil, Spain and Switzerland. The latter, however, has rejected the German request for 12,400 cartridges for the second time.
The balance sheet of direct deliveries of heavy weapons to Ukraine for defense in the Russian war of aggression is therefore sobering, and it seems that little will change in the short term. The “turning point for the Ukraine” hoped for by Melnyk and his compatriots with regard to heavy war equipment from Germany is still a long time coming.
This will increase the pressure on the federal government to act again. So Melnyk switched back to the tried and tested mode just one day after his praise. “If we’re honest, 100 days of war, so far not a single piece of heavy equipment has been delivered to Ukraine from Germany,” he said on ZDF.
“For this reason, I think it’s appropriate to shake people up a bit here in Germany to create a sense of urgency. (…) We hope that Germany will help us to end this war,” said the ambassador.