Correspondent in Berlin
The Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin thanked his Government for delivering the 5,000 military protection helmets promised by Olaf Scholz’s ‘traffic light coalition’, but at the same time he has criticized Germany for opting for a “purely symbolic gesture”. “It’s just a drop in the ocean, it’s not even a consolation,” the ambassador, Andriy Melnyk, reproached. “Ukraine expects a radical change from the federal government, a true paradigm shift,” he added, regarding the sale of defense weapons to his country.
The German Defense Minister, Christina Lambrecht, had previously announced that Germany will supply Ukraine with 5,000 military protection helmets, as a “very clear signal that we are at your
side in this situation,” he said after a meeting of the Defense Committee in Berlin. But nevertheless, Ukraine demands large-scale arms deliveries to defend against a possible Russian attack. The ambassador has requested warships and air defense systems, as well as 100,000 helmets and protective vests for volunteers, in an official letter sent on January 19. The ambassador acknowledges that the delivery of the helmets is “the first sign that Germany is finally trying to critically question its absolutely incomprehensible blockade attitude, so that Ukraine’s defense capacity can be strengthened in the face of the acute threat of war.” At the same time, he has complained that this delivery alone is intended to calm the emotion of the Ukrainian and European public. “We do not need tactics and maneuvers, but courageous action on the part of the Federal Republic, which finally supplies Ukraine with the German defensive weapons, which we need most today,” Melnyk said.
The one behind Germany’s refusal to sell arms to Ukraine is the foreign minister and co-chair of the eco-pacifist party the Greens, Annalena Baerbock, which has alleged “historical reasons” to prevent German weapons from being used to shoot at russian soldiers and that it has been sheltered behind the arms export regulations, which do not allow weapons to reach conflict zones.
But the fact is that other EU countries are supplying weapons to Ukraine and some of them are of German manufacture. Specifically, there are batches of howitzers, artillery pieces with a range of 15 kilometers and a caliber of 122 millimeters, originally from the GDR, communist Germany, and that after reunification they passed into the hands of the federal government, which finally sold them to Finland in the 1990s and could now be delivered to Ukraine. Berlin has received a request from Estonia, as confirmed on Monday by the government spokeswoman, Christiane Hoffmann, to also deliver part of those shells to Kiev. “So far, no decision has been made,” the spokeswoman said, emphasizing that “in this case, it is not about German arms deliveries, but Estonian arms deliveries.” “The federal government has not changed its attitude towards arms deliveries and in particular the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine”, insists the spokeswoman, “it does not authorize the delivery of lethal weapons of war in view of the conflict in Ukraine” and suggests that the Scholz government is preparing “other measures.”