Weapons for Ukraine: How Germany stands up to comparison

Germany’s reluctance to supply arms to Ukraine has been widely criticised. But is the criticism justified in relation to what other countries are doing? “No,” says defense expert Richter. Western military aid at a glance.

Since Thursday it has been decided: Germany will also support Ukraine with heavy weapons in the future. A decision after long hesitations and hesitations and only in the wake of the other NATO partners, hence the widespread impression. But is it true?

In fact, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s statement in an interview with Der Spiegel a week ago that no alliance partner has yet supplied Western main battle tanks came on the exact day the Netherlands announced that they would now support Ukraine with several Panzerhaubitze 2000 units. It is a self-propelled armored artillery piece manufactured by German defense contractors Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall. Howitzer 2000 is considered one of the most modern and lethal guns in the world.

What at first glance seemed like a contradiction was actually not one, since the Chancellor had only sketched out the previous strategy, which had been agreed between the most important Western partners. Nevertheless, the German position does not yet seem to measure up to the international debate. Measured not by words, but purely by actions, wrongly, analyzes defense expert Wolfgang Richter.

“When it comes to Western-style heavy weapons, all countries, including the French, the British and the Americans, were very hesitant at first,” says Richter, a former colonel who now conducts research on security policy for the Science and Politics Foundation, in an interview with ntv.fr. “The United States initially delivered towed howitzers and want to provide training themselves. Britain and France also only recently announced that they would deliver howitzers, in the case of France, those- these should be mounted on trucks.”

Germany presents with the cheetah

Scholz’s rejection of Germany’s heavy weapons lasted two days after it was published last Sunday, and then the federal government announced the delivery of 50 tanks, model Gepard, at the meeting of international defense ministers in Ramstein. Richter sees Germany as a pioneer in this segment. “Such a device for the air defense of troops, that is, an anti-aircraft tank, has not yet been delivered by anyone. This is the first time that such a weapon is mentioned.”

However, the Cheetah’s ability to shoot down low-flying enemy aircraft requires months of soldier training and an extensive supply chain. However, since many experts now assume the war will last longer, the effort would be worth it. Especially since the Russian army has so far not intervened very heavily with fighter jets – unlike in the Syrian war, where Russia acted mainly with fighter-bomber air attacks. This means that the cheetah can only be used in the medium term, but it is not currently one of the most urgent war machines.

Baerbock’s delivery list is long

The list that Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock read out to the Bundestag the day before the decision made it clear that Germany did not have to hide behind its alliance partners in terms of support for small arms. This was a list of German weapons already used in Ukraine.

Among them are several thousand Panzer and Bunkerfaust. They are weapons that fire from the shoulder and can penetrate armor or bunker walls up to 400 meters and destroy anything behind them. Baerbock also named Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Strela-type anti-aircraft missiles. These surface-to-air missiles, also operated from the shoulder, steer towards their target autonomously and strike missiles at a maximum altitude of 6000 meters.

Besides the weapons mentioned, a six-figure number of hand grenades, machine guns, anti-tank mines and an eight-figure number of ammunition were also delivered.

If the expert Richter compares these numbers and types of weapons with what other NATO partners have delivered so far, he comes to the conclusion that, contrary to what public debate suggested, the Germany was in fact on a par with “larger states and larger supplies of anti-tank, anti-aircraft, machine guns, ammunition.”

The reason for the resentment inside and outside Germany that the government of the most economically powerful EU country does not play a leading role in the group of supporters of Ukraine can probably be attributed to unclear statements, followed by an unexpected breakthrough. The main thing about the list of deliveries, according to Richter, is that Germany is on an equal footing with its partners in terms of the absolute volume of military support.

Moscow listens to all the debates

A comparison remains difficult anyway, because not all Western countries that come to the aid of kyiv openly explain exactly what they are doing with their support. And for good reason, because despite any desire to engage in an open debate, we must always take into account Moscow’s vital interest in such information. From what is nevertheless known, an overview – doubtless incomplete – can be drawn up.

The announcement of the UNITED STATESdeliver to Ukraine 121 models of the new “Phoenix Ghost” combat drone, which can track a target from the air for several hours and then be shot down. 300 Switchblade and Puma drones were also reportedly delivered. Among light weapons, the USA delivered several thousand Stinger and Javelin missiles as well as anti-tank mortars. Among other things, Washington also delivered eleven Russian-built helicopters, 200 armored personnel carriers and a total of 90 howitzers with a caliber of 155 millimeters plus ammunition.

In the open terrain of Donbass, well-equipped artillery, that is, powerful, large-caliber and long-range guns, is becoming increasingly important for Ukraine, since Russian attacks can be carried out on a broad forehead. The Ukrainians achieved their military successes around kyiv mainly by attacking the army, which was advancing in long convoys. There will no longer be such a clear combat situation in the Donbass.

Howitzers will be all the more important in the coming weeks. As well France wants to deliver here. After several weeks during which Paris remained silent on the nature of its arms deliveries, President Emmanuel Macron recently declared for the first time that his country wanted to give, among other things, the César howitzer (caliber 155 mm) to Ukraine. . the Netherlands support with the already mentioned Panzerhaubitze 2000. Britain kyiv has promised 150 armored vehicles. It is said to be the heavily armored “Mastiff” type.

The first were the Czechs

Czech republic started with arms deliveries to Ukraine, while many heads of state still wanted to see the deployment of Russian troops on the border as a maneuver. In January, kyiv received rifle ammunition and tank shells corresponding to its systems. Meanwhile, the country is also said to have supplied Soviet-designed T-72 main battle tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles – valuable to the Ukrainian military as they are familiar with both systems.

Poland met his proposal to deliver MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in the early days of the war against NATO partners. Meanwhile, Warsaw reportedly donated T-72 main battle tanks to Ukraine.

NATO partner Slovenia also wants to supply Ukraine with T-72 main battle tanks from its own stock, which the Ukrainian military is familiar with. Germany wants to successively fill the resulting defense vacuum with deliveries of the Marder and Fuchs tank types – within the framework of the so-called ring exchange.

Estonia delivered nine howitzers (122 millimeter caliber) of Soviet design to Ukraine, which originally came from GDR stocks, Lithuania delivered heavy mortars. the Turkey already sold several Bayraktar TB2 combat drones to Ukraine before the war, of which 12 were reportedly delivered. There is no official information about deliveries during the war. Canada has so far been involved in light anti-tank weapons, but announced a few days ago that it would expand its support for heavy weapons.

The Kiel Institute for the World Economy recently conducted a comparative analysis, albeit based on data before partisan countries expanded their deliveries to include heavy weapons. They put individual states’ spending on military, financial and humanitarian aid against their economic performance. The result was a ranking that put Germany in 12th place in terms of economic power. The United States, by far the strongest supporter of Ukraine in absolute numbers, only comes in at 6th place, while the top places are Estonia, followed by Poland, Lithuania and Slovakia.

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