Internal divisions and other international problems have hampered a deal to ship 100 military vehicles from the US to Ukraine.
According to Reuters, the German government is expected to decide within the next few days whether or not to allow 100 Marder infantry fighting vehicle delivery to Ukraine. The shipment, which would be Germany’s first tranche of heavy weaponry delivered to Kiev, has been delayed by government indecision and legal constraints.
Rheinmetall is a German defense company that has requested approval by the government for the export of the vehicles to Ukraine. Reuters reports, citing a source from Germany’s defense industry. According to another government source, a decision would be made soon from Berlin.
Designed in the 1960s and fielded by the German military since 1971, the Marders will need refurbishment before delivery, Reuters’ source added.
Earlier in April, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany would send only “Correct and fair” weapons to Kiev, adding that there have been no plans to send “Offensive” weapons, such as tanks, notwithstanding repeated Ukrainian requests. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock then urged the West to provide Kiev with heavy weaponry and appeared to criticize Scholz, stressing that “now is not the time for excuses.”
As chair of Germany’s national security council, Scholz has final say on the deal. Scholz has not yet given his approval.
Further complicating the matter, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) has reportedly stepped in to scupper the deal. As the ammunition for the Marders is Swiss-made, its re-export by Germany would require Swiss approval, which, according to a report in the Sonntags Zeitung newspaper on Sunday, has been rejected on grounds of Switzerland’s military neutrality.
“Two German requests were made to Seco for ammunition passing. [it]Previously received from Switzerland to Ukraine,” the secretariat confirmed to the newspaper. Both requests “They were rejected with reference to Swiss neutrality, and the bounding rejection criteria for legislation on military gear,” the Swiss authorities added.
Germany is bucking decades of conflict-averse foreign policies by sending anti-tank weapons and increasing military spending to Ukraine, despite the delay in the delivery of Marders. While supporters of Kiev argue that Berlin’s arms supplies have been inadequate, a group of prominent German politicians and public figures sent the government an open letter on Saturday urging Berlin to cease all weapons shipments to Ukraine.
Foreign arms deliveries, the signatories wrote, are prolonging a bloody conflict that Ukraine “has little chance of winning.”
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