Germany Reverses, Will Send Lethal Arms to Ukraine

Major policy change could lead to shipments from other nations
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2022 2:10 PM CST
Under Pressure, Germany to Send Arms to Ukraine
A demonstrator holds a sign Saturday reading "Hands off Ukraine" during a protest of Russia's invasion in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.   (Joerg Carstensen/dpa via AP)

(Newser) – After resisting the idea for months, Germany reversed course Saturday and agreed to send 1,000 antitank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles to Ukraine to fight off the Russian invasion. There have been exceptions, but Germany has long avoided sending lethal weapons to any nation's battle zone, the Washington Post reports. The policy sprang from the nation's role in World War II and especially applied to arms that could be used against Russia, which fought the Nazi regime in the war. Germany also has tried to keep other nations from sending weapons it made to Ukraine. But the situation has changed since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the attack, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

"The Russian invasion marks the turning of an era," Scholz said in a statement Saturday. "It is our duty to support Ukraine to the best of our ability in defending against Putin's invading army." In addition, German officials said 400 handheld antitank missiles and 14 armored vehicles will be sent to Ukraine through Poland, and Germany will donate 10 metric tons of fuel to Ukrainian forces. And the Netherlands received clearance Saturday to send German-made weapons to Ukraine, per the Wall Street Journal. That shipment includes 400 rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Germany had kept Estonia, a NATO member, from sending artillery pieces to Ukraine in January. Since that refusal, nations including the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, the US, and the UK have sent lethal defensive weapons. Germany's major policy reversal could open the floodgates for arms shipments to Ukraine, per the Post. At one point, Germany was ridiculed for its contribution: 5,000 helmets and a field hospital. The helmets arrived in Ukraine on Saturday. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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