Germany’s Baerbock calls for ‘heavy weapons’ for Ukraine
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday urged Western countries to supply Ukraine with “heavy weapons,” while issuing thinly veiled criticism of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has delayed deliveries of tanks to Kyiv.
“What’s clear: Ukraine needs more military material, especially heavy weapons,” Baerbock said at a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Luxembourg, adding that “the terrible horror that we see every day” in Russia’s war against Ukraine made the need for such supplies “more than clear.”
Germany has already delivered defensive weapons such as anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, while “heavy weapons” implies sending tanks, artillery or advanced air defense systems. POLITICO reported last week that Scholz is delaying a final decision on whether to send German tanks to Ukraine, despite pressure from his coalition partners the Greens, led by Baerbock and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck.
The foreign minister also issued indirect but harsh criticism of Scholz’s position: “Now is not the time for excuses; now is the time for creativity and pragmatism,” she said.
Scholz argued last week that Germany should reach a common position with allies on delivering tanks before sending them to Ukraine, while the German Defense Ministry, which is led by Scholz’s Social Democratic Party colleague Christine Lambrecht, argued that Germany could not immediately deliver tanks to Ukraine from its own army stock because it needs them for its own defense as well as for NATO tasks.
A defense ministry spokesperson argued on Monday that supplying Ukraine with offensive weapons was complicated and would require additional training as well as logistical support for maintenance and spare parts.
Yet Baerbock pushed back against that argument, calling for “creativity and pragmatism” to solve “issues such as replacement materials and joint training” in order “to support Ukraine as soon as possible.”
Western officials have said that Russia is preparing for a major offensive in Eastern Ukraine in the coming weeks. The Ukrainian government has appealed to Germany and other EU governments to supply tanks and air defense systems to stop that offensive and also to be able to take back Ukrainian territories that are currently occupied by Russian forces.