BERLIN: The United States welcomed it when Germany said on Tuesday that it will send anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, a marked shift in Berlin’s cautious attitude toward military support for Kyiv.
Christine Lambrecht, the country’s defence minister, said that the cabinet has approved the supply of secondhand Gepard anti-aircraft tanks.
As a response to Russia’s invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a “turning point” in German defence strategy, but refused to transfer heavy weaponry immediately to Ukraine.
The vow to provide “around 50 Cheetah anti-aircraft systems,” as the weapons are known in the United States, was “especially welcome,” according to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
An airfield in southwest Germany played host to an international gathering that included representatives from 40 nations to improve Ukraine’s defence capabilities.
France is also deploying Caesar guns with a range of 40 kilometres (25 miles) and Britain is sending Starstreak anti-air missiles and tanks to Ukraine.
Gepard tanks will not come from the German military, but from the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) armaments business, according to government sources.
The sources say they’ve been out of service for ten years and need to be technologically modernised.
In order to assist Ukraine, Lambrecht acknowledged that the Bundeswehr’s arsenal of weaponry was limited, but he also indicated that Germany’s arms manufacturers would be called upon.
Germany’s defence strategy has been overhauled in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Scholz has failed to take enough substantive action, say, opponents.
It is said that Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD) are unwilling to depart from their long-standing policy of detente with Moscow because of Scholz’s alleged lack of leadership ability.
Scholz’s coalition administration, which includes the SPD, the Greens, and the liberal FDP, has come under fire from within.
The chancellor has stated that he wants to avoid a direct conflict between NATO and Russia, a nuclear power, which justifies his tentative attitude.
Three coalition parties are now planning to put up one united motion in parliament demanding the transfer of military equipment into Ukraine on Tuesday in a draught document.
“Continue and, where workable, accelerate the supply of critical equipment to Ukraine, including the extension of transferring heavy weapons and modern systems,” states the letter.
In addition, it recommends that Ukrainian soldiers be trained in Germany and other NATO nations in order to handle the equipment.