The German government is preparing a ring swap for the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine. According to information obtained by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Thursday, the eastern NATO partner Slovenia is to hand over a larger number of its T-72 battle tanks to Ukraine in exchange for the Marder infantry fighting vehicle and the Fuchs wheeled tank from Germany.
The T-72 weapon system, which dates back to the Soviet era, is already being used by the Ukrainian army and does not require extensive additional training. According to information obtained by dpa from government circles, Slovenia has also requested more modern equipment from Germany as compensation, including the German Leopard 2 main battle tank, the Boxer wheeled tank and the Puma infantry fighting vehicle, which is being introduced in the Bundeswehr as the successor to the Marder, which has been in use for 50 years.
"The Bundeswehr is in a situation in which it unfortunately cannot hand over weapons if I want to continue to ensure national and alliance defense," said Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). She added that she also had an obligation to her NATO partners to do so. The Bundeswehr is "completely on edge," she said.
"Every levy hurts, every levy weakens, which is why it is not possible," Lambrecht said. She criticized the CDU/CSU: "If 16 years this ministry was governed by CDU/CSU, then you have to ask the question: Who is responsible for the Bundeswehr being set up this way?" However, he said, this was a discussion that would have to be held at a later date. Right now, "we have to stand together and (...) make sure together that Ukraine gets the support it needs," Lambrecht said.
Lambrecht confirmed Thursday that Germany would train Ukrainian soldiers on the 2000 self-propelled howitzer. "Because we have the know-how to train on it. That's one way to provide that support as well," Lambrecht said on RTL/ntv's "Frühstart" program.
Earlier reports said the 2000 self-propelled howitzer was to be supplied to Ukraine by the Netherlands. Germany could not do so because the "Bundeswehr is not so equipped," Lambrecht said, adding, "But where we can provide training, we will."
Since the beginning of the war, Ukraine has received from Germany a good 2500 anti-aircraft missiles, 900 anti-tank guns with 3000 rounds of ammunition, 100 machine guns and 15 bunker busters with 50 rockets.In addition, 100,000 hand grenades, 2,000 mines, about 5,300 explosive charges and more than 16 million rounds of ammunition of various calibers for small arms ranging from assault rifles to heavy machine guns, as the Deutsche Presse-Agentur learned from Ukrainian government circles. The list does not include heavy weapons such as tanks or artillery.
The German government had decided to supply weapons to the war zone two days after the Russian attack on Ukraine - breaking a taboo. Initially, the German government announced which weapons it was supplying, but for some time now it has no longer done so. Members of the Bundestag can now only obtain information about this from the Secret Protection Service.
The weapons mentioned in the Ukrainian government circles have already arrived in the war zone. The list also includes 1000 spare parts for machine guns, 100,000 detonating cords and 250,000 detonators.
On Tuesday, Scholz had explained the further course of action regarding arms deliveries. According to the statement, the German government no longer wants to supply weapons from Bundeswehr stocks because it believes that the troops would then no longer be able to fulfill their tasks in national and alliance defense.
Instead, the German government wants to finance direct arms deliveries from industry to Ukraine. The money pot for this is to be increased from 225 million to two billion euros, as Scholz already announced last week. The ring swap will then be added to this.Other allies sending more modern equipment are to be supported with ammunition and training. For example, Germany wants to participate indirectly in the delivery of heavy artillery from the Netherlands or the United States to Ukraine.
Image by Artur Pawlak