The German government will now supply heavy military equipment to Ukraine after weeks of mounting pressure. “Gepard” anti-aircraft tanks will be delivered to Ukraine, the German government confirmed.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced the supply of the military equipment during opening remarks at the Ramstein airbase in Germany, at the beginning of the U.S.-hosted defense conference on Ukraine.
This marks a major U-turn for Germany, which for decades, has held a policy of not getting involved in crises, which began back at the end of World War II. However, the invasion was a turning point in the policy. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Germany reversed long-standing policies of not sending weapons to conflict zones.
Germany also has major economic ties to Russia, depending on the country for 25 percent of its oil and 40 percent of its gas.
After pressure from the European Union, Germany is giving 50 tanks to Ukraine, and discussing bans on Russian oil. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government faced increasing pressure for refusing to ship heavy weapons directly to Ukraine. Critics said that his party was too reluctant to stray from a policy of detente toward Moscow.
The announcement is significant because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed the German government to majorly shift its defense policy. Only weeks ago, this tank announcement was unthinkable, experts said.
Previously, Scholz said that the government had repeatedly decided not to supply lethal weapons and that the reasons are based on recent years’ developments as well as developments over decades.
At the end of January, when Russia had more than 100,000 troops at massing at the Ukraine border, Germany reiterated it would not send weapons, and instead sent 5,000 protective helmets.
In the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, Germany said it would supply 1,000 anti-tank weapons, 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, about 2,700 Strela anti-aircraft missiles, ammunition, machine guns, grenades, and mines. However, the country still denied requests to send German-made heavy military equipment.