Ukraine PM seeks German tanks

Germany boosts Ukraine’s firepower

September 5, 2022

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Prime Minister Denys Shmygal will be the first high-level Ukrainian official to visit Germany in months on Sunday, in a sign of eased tensions after a rocky patch between Kyiv and Berlin.

“Germany has made huge progress in its support of Ukraine with weapons,” Shmygal told German media ahead of his trip, in a transcript published by his press office.

But the prime minister said Kyiv needs more from Berlin, including “modern combat tanks” like the Leopard 2.

Scholz will welcome Shmygal with military honors in the afternoon.

But Shmygal will be starting his day with talks on Sunday morning with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose offer to travel to Kyiv in April was rebuffed, sparking a row.

Steinmeier, a former foreign minister from Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, had been shunned over his years-long detente policy towards Moscow — something which he has admitted was a mistake following the outbreak of war.

Germany’s ruling political party, SPD, has historically championed close ties with Russia, born out of the “Ostpolitik” policy of rapprochement and dialogue with the then Soviet Union, devised by former SPD chancellor Willy Brandt in the 1970s.

That tradition had led in part to Germany initially refusing any weapons deliveries to Kyiv, with a previous decision to send only 5,000 helmets sparking anger and mockery.

But Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition, which also includes the Greens and liberal FDP, has since made a sharp U-turn.

Howitzers, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft missiles are among the weapons that have arrived in Kyiv.

Heavier weapons like the IRIS-T anti-aircraft systems, rocket launchers mounted on pick-ups and anti-drone equipment are due in a further military aid package worth over 500 million euros.

And Ukrainian soldiers are currently being trained in Germany to use the anti-aircraft Leopard tanks.

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