Tusk demands Germany supplies weapons to Zelensky ‘if they are to learn from own history’

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Donald Tusk, former President of the European Council, urged Germans yesterday (Wednesday) to back further shipments of military equipment, after the German Government was criticised for its slow and meagre response. His comments came ahead of the German coalition Government’s announcement that it would not send more weapons to Ukraine over fears it would not be able to defend itself.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine nearly two months ago, Germany’s reaction was one of the most sluggish of Western nations.

While the UK, US and other allies were quick to respond with packages of economic and political sanctions as well as military aid for Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced continuing criticism over his Government’s response.

The German Chancellor has faced discontent from his own cabinet, with a young coalition Government already showing cracks over the international crisis.

On Tuesday, Mr Scholz said that, though the Government was unable to send the requested equipment, it would “provide the necessary money” for German anti-tank and air defence weapons to be manufactured for Ukraine.

Yesterday, German newspaper Bild claimed that the “industry list” created with the Ukrainian Government of military equipment requests had been “consolidated” by Mr Scholz to exclude essential items.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the chair of the Bundestag’s defence committee, responded that Germany was “still lagging behind” other nations on weapons deliveries.

Tweeting ahead of the vote, Mr Tusk said: “The Germans must firmly support Ukraine today if we are to believe that they have drawn conclusions from their own history.”

Markus Laubenthal, Germany’s deputy chief of staff, supported Mr Scholz in resisting calls for further military aid.

He claimed that if the German Government handed over a hundred Marder light tanks to Ukraine, it would limit Germany’s own defensive capabilities.

Mr Laubenthal said: “We would no longer be able to react to eventualities, and that would significantly weaken our defensive capability.”

Germany is surrounded by allies, and its homeland has not been attacked without first launching an assault elsewhere since the 1870 Franco-Prussian war.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, said Germany had 400 of the tanks Ukraine had requested, and that the excuse was “incomprehensible”.

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Mr Scholz’s hesitance in aiding Ukraine may be harming his reputation as leader.

Despite early polls suggesting Germans were typically against sending military aid to Ukraine, a recent poll by Der Spiegel, conducted from April 17-19, found nearly two thirds of Germans did not see Mr Scholz as a strong leader – of which 42 percent selected “no, absolutely not”.

When Germany did bring forward a package of sanctions, it overturned a long-held ban on sending weapons to warzones and stopped the certification of the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.

However, Mr Scholz’s coalition Government stopped short of a ban on Russian fossil fuels, indicating that the economy was still too reliant on them.

Germany’s reliance on Russian oil and gas has been linked to its reluctance to respond to the war.

There are voices of discontent from within the cabinet, though. Annalena Baerbock, German foreign minister and Green Party politician, said during a visit to Latvia on Tuesday that the idea of sending armoured vehicles is “not taboo”.

This was despite her claim that “it sometimes sounds that way in the German debate”, in a subtle dig at her coalition partners.

Ms Baerbock also claimed that Germany had sent Ukraine weaponry without disclosing it, including anti-tank missiles and stingers.

Germany previously faced criticism after Ukrainian officials claimed it had sent unusable missiles that had been stored since the Soviet era in mouldy boxes.

Ukraine is said to have already ordered a hundred decommissioned Marder tanks from a German defence company, but the refurbishment is expected to take months while fighting rages on.

The Ukrainian Government had reportedly requested Germany send a hundred of their own to bridge the gap, but this was refused at the start of April and again this week.

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