Germany’s Scholz vows to ramp up weapons production for Ukraine

Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed Thursday to ramp up Germany's armaments manufacturing industry, after NATO warned that Ukraine was currently using up more ammunition than allies were producing.

Olaf Scholz Bundestag March 2, 2023
Olaf Scholz speaks to the German Bundestag on March 3, 2023. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

Scholz said he was in talks with the armaments industry to increase production of military equipment for both the Bundeswehr and other European armies.

“We need a running production of important weapons, equipment and ammunition,” he said. “That requires long-term contracts and down payments to build up capacities,” he added.

That way, he said, “Germany would create an industrial base that would contribute towards securing peace and freedom in Europe”.

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: Germany must show ‘leadership and vision’ for Ukraine

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said last month that Ukraine’s rate of ammunition usage was “many times higher than our current rate of production”.

Until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, post-World War II Germany had pursued a pacifist path that has for decades led to under-investment in its military.

But three days after Moscow’s aggression, Scholz announced a 100-billion-euro fund to bulk up the army and renew its stocks.

Over the last year, Germany has also supplied weapons — from multiple missile launchers to armoured vehicles — to Kyiv.

Most recently, Scholz agreed to allow German-made Leopard battle tanks to be sent to Ukraine, significantly ramping up Berlin’s military commitments to Kyiv.

In his address to parliament on Thursday, Scholz also hit out at calls particularly from the far left in Germany for Berlin to stop delivering armaments to Kyiv.

READ ALSO: Olaf Scholz pledges no peace talks without Ukrainian agreement

“You don’t create peace by shouting ‘never war again’ here in Berlin while at the same time demanding that all arms deliveries to Ukraine be stopped,” he said.

“If Ukraine stopped defending itself, then that would not be peace, but the end of Ukraine,” he warned.

“Love for peace doesn’t mean subjecting oneself to one’s bigger neighbour,” he said.

READ ALSO: Rallies in Berlin, Paris call for peace in Ukraine

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Ukraine asks Germany for air-to-surface missiles: defence ministry

Ukraine has asked Berlin to provide it with Taurus air-to-surface missiles that have a range of in excess of 500 kilometres, Germany's defence ministry told AFP on Saturday.

Ukraine asks Germany for air-to-surface missiles: defence ministry

“We have a received a request from the Ukrainian side in recent days,” a ministry spokesman said, without providing further details.

The request comes as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive in an effort to wrestle back territory seized by Russia since Moscow invaded its neighbour in February 2022, sparking the biggest conflict on European soil since World War II.

The missiles, produced by a Germany-Swedish joint venture Taurus Systems, would allow Ukraine to strike well inside Russia with their range of more than 500 kilometres (310 miles).

READ ALSO: Germany say US must decide on jets for Ukraine

The United States and other Western countries providing arms to Ukraine have up to now been cautious on giving Kyiv weapons that could reach inside nuclear-armed Russia, potentially widening the conflict.

Previously seen as reticent on supplying weapons, Germany has become the second-biggest contributor of military assistance to Ukraine after the United States.

READ ALSO: Germany unveils 2.7 bn euro weapons package for Ukraine

It is currently preparing its biggest-yet military aid package, including anti-missile systems, 30 additional Leopard 1 tanks, more than 100 armoured combat vehicles and more than 200 surveillance drones.

But it has so far been cautious on the issue of fighter jets and air-to-surface missiles.