Germany to send anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine in policy shift | Germany

Germany will authorize the delivery of tanks to Ukraine, the German defense minister has said, in what would be a clear switch in Berlin’s cautious policy on military backing for Kyiv.

The government has agreed to sign off the delivery of used Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, Christine Lambrecht told an international meeting of defense ministers at the US Ramstein airbase, according to a draft of her speech seen by Agence France-Presse.

Forty countries are holding emergency talks at the airbase in south-western Germany on bolstering the defense capabilities of Ukraine.

The US-hosted meeting will “focus on doing things to generate additional capability and capacity for the Ukrainian forces”, according to the US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin.

France is delivering Caesar cannon with a range of 25 miles (40km) and Britain has provided Starstreak anti-air missiles and tanks.

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has been criticized for refusing to send heavy weapons directly to Ukraine, despite announcing a “turning point” in its defense policy in response to the war. Critics have accused him of weak leadership and say his Social Democrats (SPD) are too reluctant to break from their policy of detente towards Moscow.

Scholz has also faced criticism from his coalition government, a partnership between the SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP.

The chancellor has justified his cautious approach by saying he wished to avoid a direct confrontation between Nato and Russia, a nuclear power.

But according to a draft document seen by Agence France-Presse on Tuesday, the three coalition parties now plan to present a joint proposal in parliament calling for the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine.

The document urges the government to “continue and, where possible, accelerate the delivery of necessary equipment to Ukraine, including extending the delivery to heavy weapons and complex systems”.

It also suggests Ukrainian soldiers be trained in Germany and other Nato countries to operate the weapons.

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