After weeks of refusing to send military aid to Ukraine due to a longstanding policy never to send arms to conflict zones, Germany has reversed course.
On Feb. 26, Berlin buckled under the pressure of fierce criticism from other western European nations and has now opted to send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems out of its own arsenal and has also granted approval for the Netherlands and Estonia to ship some of their own German-originated weapons to aid Ukraine, Politico reported.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the decision is due to the historic nature of Russia’s invasion and the need to defend its Ukrainian allies.
“The Russian attack marks a turning point. It is our duty to do our best to help Ukraine defend against the invading army of Putin. That’s why we’re supplying 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 stinger missiles to our friends in the Ukraine,” he tweeted, as Axios reported.
In January, Germany had refused to approve Estonia’s request to send its own German-made howitzers to Ukraine as Russia appeared ready to launch an invasion, angering other European nations who called on Berlin to do more to help fend off the Kremlin’s aggression.
A cynical view of Germany’s decision to refuse to send military aid was further compounded by the fact that the country partnered with Russia on the controversial NordStream 2 Pipeline, causing some to wonder if this was behind the decision.
Berlin, however, pointed to its longstanding “historical responsibilities” not to send weapons it controlled into war zones, which other European nations noted cut Ukraine off from a mass of stockpiled weapons across the continent, Politico noted.
Countries that have German weapons must get the approval of Germany before sending them to Ukraine. This applies to jointly-made weapons as well, including the products of the extensive Franco-German partnerships across the defense sector.
Germany is the largest and wealthiest nation in the European Union, so it undoubtedly plays a major role in the west’s ultimate effectiveness at helping to thwart Putin’s advances in Ukraine.
“The problem in Europe is that a lot of it is supplied by German manufacturers, and Germany so far is withholding consent,” an official to a western European nation said last week, as Politico reported. “That instantly limits the available stores in Europe.”
“Now is the time to help as much as we can,” another official said as Germany still maintained its refusal to help on Friday. “There are people dying and [there] will be more if we don’t do what is the bare minimum,” the official said, adding: “It is a question of survival for Ukraine.”
It is believed that the extensive pressure of other western allies ultimately drove Germany to reverse course.
In January, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks slammed Germany for what he called its “immoral and hypocritical” dealings with Russia and China and declared the country had a “moral duty” to aid Ukraine and would do well to remember its own history of being protected from Soviet Russia.
“It’s immoral and hypocritical. It’s driving a division line between west and east in Europe,” he said of Germany’s relationship with the west’s eastern adversaries, Politico reported at the time.
“Germans forgot already that Americans were granting their security in the Cold War,” he added. “But they should [remember]. It’s their moral duty.”
This historic change of course on Germany’s part comes as Ukrainian forces are managing to stall Russia’s formidable advances as citizens and leaders alike, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, fend off the invaders on the ground.
“I am here. We will not lay down any weapons. We will defend our state, because our weapons are our truth,” he said in a video from the ground in Kyiv Saturday, having predicted Friday night that he could be killed in the night as Russia continued its assault on the nation’s capital, as Al Jazeera reported.
Zelenskyy has made clear to the country’s western allies that he and his men have every intention of remaining and fighting. He hotly refused U.S. President Joe Biden’s offer to evacuate on Saturday, as CNN reported, saying, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”
The west is indeed morally bound to aid these patriots defending their homeland from aggressive foreign invasion. Considering Germany’s own grievous history of attempted continental dominance, this certainly wasn’t the time to demur from aiding those who are currently fending off such advances.
While there may be many good reasons why the U.S. and other NATO partners and EU bloc nations might not want to send their own personnel over to Ukraine, it does seem abundantly clear that the least they can do to aid the Ukrainian people’s fight against invasion is to lend a helping hand.
That goes especially for a country as powerful as Germany. If they do have a moral obligation to aid Ukraine, now is definitely the time to fulfill it.
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