Pressure grows on Germany to act on Ukraine’s plea for arms: Isolated Chancellor Olaf Scholz is attacked from within his country and abroad over ‘dithering’ in face of Putin’s aggression
- Olaf Scholz said Germany was coordinating more weapons deliveries to Ukraine
- But head of parliament’s defence committee said country is ‘still lagging behind’
- Members of junior partners in his three-way coalition accused him of dithering
- It came as US, UK and Canada leaders pledged to send more artillery weaponry
Chancellor Olaf Scholz is facing growing frustration from within his country as well as abroad over what critics say is his lack of leadership on Ukraine.
Germany has practically maxed-out the weapons it can deliver from its own stocks and is instead working with its armaments industry and other nations to send more to support the country militarily, Scholz said on Tuesday.
Speaking after a call with Western allies, including US President Joe Biden, Scholz said they were coordinating more weapons deliveries to Ukraine to ensure it could fend off Russia’s invasion.
Asked however if Germany would send Leopard tanks, he said the Western allies agreed it made sense to send Ukraine arms it could immediately deploy.
Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the head of parliament’s defence committee and a member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), criticised Scholz for not delivering more concrete details.
‘We are still lagging behind’ on weapons deliveries, she wrote on Twitter.
And even members of the junior partners in his three-way coalition are openly accusing him of dithering on Ukrainian pleas to send it more heavy weapons.
It came as the leaders of the United States, Britain and Canada pledged on Tuesday to send more artillery weaponry to Ukraine in the face of an all-out Russian assault on that country’s East.
Biden, Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau acted after they and other allied leaders took part in a video call as the Russian invasion reached a new phase.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (pictured on Tuesday) is facing growing frustration from within his country as well as abroad over what critics say is his lack of leadership on Ukraine
It came as the leaders of the United States, Britain and Canada pledged on Tuesday to send more artillery weaponry to Ukraine in the face of an all-out Russian assault on that country’s East. Pictured: Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9
Berlin was liaising between German military equipment makers and Ukraine to deliver the country weapons like anti-tank and air defence weapons.
‘We will provide the necessary money for the purchase,’ said Scholz.
Scholz must balance pressure from the Greens and Free Democrats to step up arms supplies to Ukraine with some reticence among elements of his Social Democrats (SPD), which long advocated Western rapprochement with Russia prior to the war in Ukraine.
In a poll by Forsa published on Tuesday by broadcasters RTL and NTV, some 52 per cent were unsatisfied with Scholz’s work compared to just 31 per cent and 34 per cent for Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, both from the Greens.
Meanwhile, Biden is expected to announce in coming days another military aid package for Ukraine about the same size as the $800 million one announced last week, multiple sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
If the aid package is as large as expected, it would bring total U.S. military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February to well over $3 billion.
Asked by reporters during a visit to New Hampshire if the United States would be sending more artillery to Ukraine, Biden replied yes.
In London, Johnson told lawmakers: ‘This will become an artillery conflict, they need support with more artillery, that is what we will be giving them … in addition to many other forms of support.’
Trudeau said Canada would be sending heavy artillery and promised to provide more details.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to providing Ukraine security and economic and humanitarian assistance.
‘We will continue to provide them more ammunition, as we will provide them more military assistance,’ Psaki said. She said the United States was preparing another round of sanctions to impose on Moscow.
In their 90-minute video call, Biden and the allies discussed their diplomatic engagements and coordinated efforts to further impose ‘severe economic costs to hold Russia accountable,’ Psaki said.
Meanwhile, Biden is expected to announce in coming days another military aid package for Ukraine about the same size as the $800 million one announced last week, multiple sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday
They are to coordinate through the G7, the European Union and NATO, she said.
Russia seized its first town in eastern Ukraine as part of a fresh assault that Ukraine has described as the Battle of the Donbas aimed at taking two provinces.
The United States sees Russia carrying out a ‘prelude’ to larger offensive operations in the eastern part of its neighboring country, a senior US official said on Tuesday.
Others on the call included European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as well as the leaders of Italy, Japan and Poland.
A French presidential adviser said the allies had discussed how to provide security guarantees to Ukraine after the war if it is not part of NATO and its automatic defense mechanism known as Article 5.
‘Our country is ready to provide security guarantees,’ the French official said. ‘It would be military supplies so that it can deal with a new attack or, possibly, guarantees that would see us get involved if Ukraine is attacked in a way where we could assess how to assist it.’
These guarantees would look more like the defense clause the European Union currently has among its members, the French official said, rather than a defense mechanism similar to NATO’s Article 5, which triggers automatic military support if a member is attacked.
Allies also discussed the need to persuade non-EU, non-G7 countries to treat the war in Ukraine as an issue that concerns world peace and not just Europe or the West, the French official said.
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