April 2, 2023

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Schulz defends Germany's commitment to securing Ukraine's weapons amid growing criticism

Schulz defends Germany’s commitment to securing Ukraine’s weapons amid growing criticism

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz makes a statement after his talks with European leaders and US President Joe Biden, in Berlin, Germany, April 19, 2022. REUTERS/Lizzie Nessner/Paul

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BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said Germany will continue to support Ukraine militarily even though it has virtually exceeded the maximum number of weapons it can deliver from its own stockpile and is instead working with the arms industry and other countries to send more. Tuesday.

Schultz faces growing frustration at home and abroad over what critics say is his lack of leadership in Ukraine. Even members of his junior partners in his Triple Alliance now openly accuse him of hesitating Ukrainian pleas to send more heavy weapons.

Speaking after participating in a call with Western allies including US President Joe Biden, Schulz said they are coordinating more arms shipments to Ukraine to ensure it can fend off the Russian invasion.

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Asked if Germany would send Leopard tanks, he said the Western allies – not just Berlin – agreed that it made sense to send weapons to Ukraine that it could deploy immediately. As such, the Allies would enable Eastern European countries to hand over Soviet weapons they were familiar with by committing to their replacement.

Moreover, Berlin was coordinating between German and Ukrainian military equipment makers for the delivery of the country’s weapons such as anti-tank weapons and air defense.

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“We’ll save the money for the purchase,” Schultz said.

Schulz must balance pressure from the Greens and Liberal Democrats to increase arms supplies to Ukraine with some reservation among elements of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who have long advocated Western rapprochement with Russia before the war in Ukraine.

Marie-Agnes Struck-Zimmermann, chair of the parliament’s defense committee and a member of the FDP, criticized Schulz for not providing more concrete details.

“We are still lagging behind” on arms deliveries, she wrote on Twitter.

In a poll conducted by Forsa on Tuesday by broadcasters RTL and NTV, about 52% were dissatisfied with Schultz’s work versus just 31% and 34% for Secretary of State Annallina Barbock and Economics Minister Robert Habeck, both of whom are from the Greens.

Support for the Social Democrats has fallen by two percentage points over the past week to 25%, putting them on a standoff with the Conservatives, up one percentage point.

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(Reporting by Thomas Escret, Sarah Marsh and Andreas Reinke) Editing by Catherine Evans and William MacLean

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