BERLIN: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised Ukraine world-class weapons – from self-propelled howitzers to multiple launch rocket systems and an air defence shield capable of protecting a “large city” from Russian strikes.
But the sluggishness in the actual delivery of heavy weapons to bolster Ukraine against Russia’s invasion has raised questions as to whether the Social Democrat’s pledges are sincere.
As Scholz arrived in Kyiv for his long-awaited trip on Thursday (Jun 16), he was seeking to restore confidence among Germany’s allies over the repeated rows over the urgently awaited arms.
“We want to show not only solidarity, but also assure that the help that we’re organising – financial, humanitarian, but also, when it comes to weapons – will continue,” Scholz told German media on the way to Kyiv.
“And that we will continue it as long as it is necessary for Ukraine’s fight” to defend itself against Moscow, he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had this week ramped up the pressure on the German chancellor, singling Berlin out as a laggard in weapons supply.
“Every leader of our partner countries, and naturally the chancellor as well, knows exactly what Ukraine needs. It’s just that the (weapons) deliveries from Germany are still less than they could be,” Zelenskyy told Wednesday’s Die Zeit weekly.
In a hint of what he seemed to think might be holding Scholz back, the Ukrainian president added in a separate interview with public broadcaster ZDF that “there must be no attempt at a balancing act between Ukraine and the relationship with Russia”.
Scholz himself has batted off the accusations, as he underlined that Germany “will deliver all the weapons that we have set in motion”.
He argued, however, that there was no point in sending complicated modern weapons without first training Ukrainian troops how to use them.
Training is underway in Germany, he told a press conference this week, stressing that the weapons would follow once soldiers know how to deploy them effectively.
“I think that it would be a good thing for some people to think for a moment before they express an opinion,” he added, in a sign of irritation at the repeated queries.