Scholz accused of hesitating over Ukraine arms deliveries

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Scholz accused of hesitating over Ukraine arms deliveries

The pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz over German arms deliveries to Ukraine has not eased despite an announcement that Berlin will give Ukraine the money to source weapons direct from German manufacturers, reported dpa.

The supply of weapons to Kiev has turned into a fierce political debate in Germany, with Scholz taking criticism from many sides, including from within his own coalition.

On Wednesday, conservative opposition leader Friedrich Merz took a swipe at the chancellor for a lack of leadership on the issue.

Scholz's party, the Social Democrats, was deeply divided when it came to arms exports, Merz said, arguing that this meant Scholz was holding back on weapons deliveries.

Scholz said on Tuesday evening that the government had asked arms manufacturers to list what materiel could be supplied in the near future and that Kiev had made a selection. He said Berlin would supply the funding needed.

Merz hit back that these lists had been available "for weeks," and that "we have to help Ukraine more than we are doing now."

Scholz listed anti-tank weapons, air defence equipment and ammunition as examples, but did not mention the tanks and planes that Ukraine has been asking for. He talked about weapons "that can be used in an artillery engagement" and those that would have "a considerable impact."

Ukraine's Ambassador Andriy Melnyk said the announcement was greeted in Kiev with "great disappointment and bitterness."

There were about 100 Marder-type tanks that the Bundeswehr used for training and that could be sent to Ukraine straight away, he said.

He said Germany had 800 transport tanks, most of which were not being used, and said the delivery of armoured Howitzer 2000 mobile artillery units could be "decisive" for the battles against Russia.

Scholz had said on Tuesday however that the possibilities for sending weapons from the Bundeswehr's own supplies were "hitting their limits" – a position Melnyk described as "incomprehensible."

Security expert Carlo Masala from the Bundeswehr University in Munich also cast doubt on Scholz's statement.

"Taking the position that we can't give Marder tanks doesn't seem credible to me, because there are certainly a few Marder circulating in the training reserves," the professor told broadcaster ZDF on Wednesday.

The co-leader of the Social Democrats, Saskia Esken, met Melnyk on Wednesday to explain the government's position, but no details of the conversation were released.

The Social Democrat lawmaker who chairs the Bundestag foreign policy committee, Michael Roth, wrote on Wednesday that he expected heavier weapons to be sent to Ukraine soon, whether delivered by the German army, or bought from manufacturers by Ukraine.

"The world will not be safer and more peaceful if we hesitate," he wrote.

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