Germany will send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine, marking a complete reversal in Berlin’s restrictive arms export policy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced Saturday.
Why it matters: Germany has for months come under intense criticism for its response to Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. The government said its “historical responsibilities” prevented it from shipping arms to conflict zones, and had previously blocked other NATO allies from transferring German-origin weapons to Ukraine.
What they’re saying: “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,” Scholz tweeted.
- Germany will also lift its ban on other countries exporting German-origin weapons, allowing the Netherlands to transfer 400 rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Ukraine.
The big picture: Germany is the largest economy and most powerful country in the European Union, making its voice and policy positions critical to the effectiveness of the West’s response to Russia’s invasion.
- Germany is highly reliant on Russian natural gas and had been an obstacle in discussions about imposing the harshest sanctions on Moscow, fearing the economic and energy reverberations.
- Massive public pressure, including from Ukrainian officials, appears to have led Germany to drop its opposition to a number of the toughest measures, including halting the certification of the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
What to watch: The EU is working toward an agreement to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT financial system, a major step that Germany had previously opposed along with Italy and Hungary.
Go deeper: Ukraine-Russia crisis dashboard