Germany has announced a shipment of 1,000 anti-tank missiles and 500 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft stinger missiles to Ukraine. Previously, Berlin had only offered non-lethal aid, but German Chancellor Olaf Scholz explained his country had reached a “turning point.”
“It is our duty to do our best to support Ukraine in defending itself against Putin’s invading army,” he said.
Further, Berlin approved an arms transfer of German-made weapons from the Netherlands to Kiev. In another policy reversal, Germany will allow countries to use its airspace to bring weapons to Ukraine. The decisions mark a break with Germany’s post-WWII tradition not to provide weapons to countries at war.
The aid to Ukraine is just part of Berlin’s evolving defense policy. Sholtz separately announced his country would place $113 billion in a special armed forces fund to boost military spending over 2% of GDP (a requirement of the NATO alliance long unmet by Germany).
The European Union announced it would join its member state in donating arms to Ukraine. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the decision was “a defining moment for European history.” The organization will provide “lethal arms” and “lethal assistance” to the Ukrainian army worth some $502 million, and another $56 million for “non-lethal supplies,” fuel and protective equipment.
Other European nations are also making donations to Ukraine’s weapons stockpile. Belgium will transfer 3,000 machine guns and 200 anti-tank grenade launchers, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia announced arms packages without specifying what would be included. Non-NATO member Finland is offering non-lethal aid, but is considering an arms delivery as well.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden instructed the State Department to release an additional $350 million in weapons to Ukraine. The new shipment comes after officials in the White House debated if supplying additional arms would make America a party to the war. In a recent press conference Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said there were logistical challenges getting weapons to Ukraine.
It remains to be seen how the Kremlin will interpret the West’s ongoing military aid to Kiev. When Putin announced his war in Ukraine, he suggested he could use the nuclear option for countries that opposed the Russian invasion. On Sunday, Russia put its nuclear deterrent on high alert, citing Western sanctions and other hostile policies.