Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Dispute over arms deliveries – "Must not have nuclear war": Scholz defends Ukraine course

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Pressure mounts on Germany to supply Ukraine with tanks and other heavy weapons. Chancellor Scholz has now announced the delivery of further armaments in an interview – and is trying to refute an allegation.

Olaf Scholz (SPD) has more in a “Spiegel” interview weapons shipments promised to Ukraine – but admitted a lack of availability in the Bundeswehr. “The Bundeswehr’s options for supplying further weapons from its arsenal have largely been exhausted. However, we will definitely still supply what can still be made available – anti-tank weapons, anti-tank mines and artillery ammunition,” says Scholz.

He also wants to make more possible with regard to armored vehicles and artillery: Troop transporters and artillery can be deployed quickly, says Scholz. That is why Germany is ready “to help our allies with quick training on these devices” and to see “whether we can still obtain suitable equipment”.

In the short term, however, weapons from ex-Soviet stocks, with which Ukrainians are well acquainted, make the most sense. In the medium term, however, Germany will help Ukraine to expand its defense capabilities, “including with Western weapons.”

So far, the federal government has drawn up a list of military equipment in talks with German industry and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, including, as before, “defense weapons and mortars for artillery combat”.

Regarding the recent accusation that he was arrogant in dealing with critics of his arms export policy, Scholz said that “you notice how tense the situation is when a saying in a radio interview is immediately taken as an insult.” Scholz had dismissed critical MPs in the relevant post as “boys and girls” who had googled their knowledge. “Of course, when it comes to an issue as disturbing as arms deliveries, there are many who have a different opinion than I do and who say so publicly. That’s part of a good democracy.”

Scholz explained his reluctance to deliver heavy weapons with the risk of a nuclear strike by Russia. “I’m doing everything to prevent an escalation that leads to a third world war. There must be no nuclear war,” said Scholz. Thus, for the first time, the Federal Chancellor has placed the Federal Government’s continued refusal to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine in the context of a nuclear escalation between Russia and NATO.

When it comes to the question of arms deliveries, Scholz says it is not “fear” that is in the foreground for him, but his “political responsibility”: “I swore an oath of office. I said very early on that we must do everything we can to prevent a direct military confrontation between of NATO and a highly armed superpower like Russia, a nuclear power.”

There is “no textbook for this situation in which one could read at what point we are perceived as a war party, the book is rewritten every day, some lessons are still ahead of us”. But from Scholz’s point of view, the introduction of a no-fly zone would have made NATO a war party.

The Chancellor’s concern about a nuclear escalation is based on the predicament in which Scholz sees Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Russia is in dramatic difficulties, the sanctions are causing enormous damage to Russia’s economy, the chain of military defeats can no longer be glossed over by government propaganda become,” says Scholz.

“A cold peace that has not been sealed with an agreement will not free Russia from the sanctions regime. Putin is under enormous pressure.”

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