In Major U-tern, Germany Sends Stinger Missiles, Armored Vehicles and Anti-tank Weapons to Ukraine

The German military will send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 “Stinger” class surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion, the German government announced.

In addition, the German economy and climate ministry said Saturday that Germany will send 14 armored vehicles and up to 10,000 tons of fuel to Ukraine. 

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said the weapons would be delivered as soon as possible to support the Ukrainian military. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said it was Germany’s “duty to support Ukraine to the best of its ability in defending itself against the invading army of Vladimir Putin.” 

Earlier Saturday Berlin authorized NATO partners the Netherlands and Estonia to make arms deliveries to Ukraine. For the Netherlands, 400 German-made anti-tank weapons are involved, while Estonia was granted approval to sent artillery from old GDR (East German) stocks.  

The move marks a major change of course for Germany, which had until now refused the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine due to its policy of not sending weapons to a conflict zone. 

The Netherlands also said it would sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, according to the Dutch defense ministry. 

The Netherlands said it will send 200 Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems to Ukraine — often the top-requested type of military aid among Ukrainian soldiers and officials (apart from Western powers sending their own planes and forces to fight with Ukraine). And Belgium announced it would supply Ukraine with 2,000 machine guns and 3,800 tonnes of fuel.  

Across the Atlantic, the United States on Saturday also upped its ongoing military assistance to Ukraine, authorizing up to $350 million to help bolster Ukraine’s defenses, funding that will include “further lethal defensive assistance.” 

In addition to its stance on weapons shipments, Germany has also taken flack from some allies for its opposition to barring Russia from the SWIFT international payment system, which European countries notably use to buy energy from Russia. While there was some initial resistance across the EU to such a ban, the opposition has rapidly dwindled following the invasion and amid pressure from Ukraine. EU countries like Poland are now publicly leaning on Germany to follow suit.  

Against this broader backdrop, officials from several EU member countries had expressed fury and disbelief that the German government dragged its feet on giving blanket permission for the supply of lethal weapons and ammunition.  

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