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Germany's Scholz defends record on arms to Ukraine

1-6-2022 |

The German chancellor was addressing the German parliament's lower chamber on Wednesday about his government's spending priorities.

Scholz outlined Germany's approach to the Ukraine war and its effects on the wider economy and public spendin.

Defense of Berlin's actions so far

The German government has faced criticism for its perceived reluctance to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Ahead of the speech, opposition leader Friedrich Merz of the Christian Democrats had asked Scholz to set aside his prepared text and tell parliament what weapons he planned to deliver to the country. 

Defending Germany's record, Scholz said Berlin had begun to send weapons to Ukraine soon after the war began.

He said 15 million rounds of ammunition, 100,000 hand grenades and more that 5,000 anti-tank mines had been delivered by Germany so far.

In the weeks to come, Scholz said Germany would provide more weapons including the IRIS-T anti-aircraft system. The IRIS-T has the ability to target and shoot down other air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles 

Meanwhile, Scholz said Germany had been clear about its priorities.

"Putin mustn't achieve his goals. He mustn't get away with this military onslaught against another country."

"This is imperialism which we in Europe won't accept." 

Before addressing the military spending, Scholz said the government taking a number of steps to ease the burden of rising prices for the German public. 

Shift in approach to military spending

Scholz announced in a government statement to the Bundestag on February 27 that the budget would be endowed with the one-time special fund of €100 billion ($107 billion) for defense projects.

He also said more than 2% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) would be invested in defense, a target in line with Germany's commitments as a member of NATO.

The German chancellor stated at the time that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had led to a "Zeitenwende", or turning point, in Germany's funding of the military.

The announcement heralded a major policy shift after decades of German military restraint partially rooted in Germany's bloody 20th-century history.

Immediately after Russia's invasion of its neighbor, the head of the German army said his own troops were poorly equipped for military action and that he was "fed up" with Germany's neglect of the military.

The money is expected to be used for a range of projects, including encrypted radios, new warships and a short-range air defense system.

In a response to criticism about its arms supplies to Kyiv, Berlin says it is supplying weapons indirectly by sending equipment to other NATO allies. These countries, such as the Czech Republic, can in turn deliver their older weapons — mainly of Soviet design and familiar to Ukraine's military — to Kyiv.

Source: DW