Germany has authorized the Netherlands to send Ukraine 400 rocket-propelled grenade launchers to aid in the fight against Russian invaders, according to two EU officials — marking an abrupt shift in Berlin’s military policy amid pressure from EU and NATO allies.
Until Saturday, Germany had clung to a longstanding practice of not permitting lethal weapons that it controlled to be transferred into a conflict zone.
That stance bewildered some European officials, even more so after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion and launched missile strikes on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
Germany’s shift comes as numerous Western allies are mobilizing to send Ukraine more guns, ammunition and even anti-aircraft defense systems as Russian forces bear down on major Ukrainian cities. The reversal could mean a rapid increase in European military assistance for Ukraine, as large portions of the Continent’s weapons and ammunition are at least in part German-manufactured, giving Berlin legal control over their transfer.
Before Saturday’s turnaround, senior Ukrainian officials had been complaining bitterly for weeks about Germany’s refusal to allow arms shipments to bolster Ukraine’s defenses.
Estonia, in particular, had said it wanted to send old howitzers but was prevented from doing so because Germany was withholding its approval. Estonia bought the weapons from Finland, which gave its sign-off, but Germany also has to OK the transfer because it originally sold the howitzers to Finland. [Continue reading…]