Shells are collected from the world one by one
The Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, has approved by an absolute majority a resolution requiring the government to strengthen support for Ukraine, including the supply of heavy weapons. The appearance of the document was preceded by an intense political struggle, and there is reason to believe that it is still far from over.
Germany's largest opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union, has severely criticized Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ministers for their “Ukrainian” policies. The Cabinet was blamed for indecision, slowness and even incompetence, which, according to the CDU, was manifested primarily in the unwillingness to provide the Armed Forces of Ukraine with what is commonly called heavy or offensive weapons (tanks, self-propelled artillery mounts, air defense systems, helicopters, etc.). etc.) from the arsenals of the Bundeswehr.
Moreover, this criticism found more and more sympathizers in the very camp of power, which, we recall, consists of three parties – the SPD, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party. Because of the “armoral” colors of these political forces in Germany, the government coalition is called the “Traffic Light”.
The matter could well have ended with the collapse of the “Traffic Light”, and, accordingly, the collapse of the cabinet. And in a very short term. But in the end, the parties came to a compromise: the draft approved on Thursday bears the signatures of the leaders of four parliamentary factions – all three “semaphore” and their main opponent, the CDU.
But like any compromise, this decision leaves room for maneuver for the parties to the agreement. The resolution entitled “Protection of Peace and Freedom in Europe – Comprehensive Support for Ukraine” indeed requires the Cabinet of Ministers to “continue and, if possible, accelerate the supply of necessary equipment to Ukraine” and “expand the supply of heavy weapons and complex systems.” However, with an important caveat: this should not “endanger Germany's defense capability”.
The “circular exchange” was named as the most suitable, expedient scheme for such supplies: the states of Central and Eastern Europe provide Ukraine with Soviet-style heavy weapons, and in return Germany produces and supplies modern analogues to partner countries.
There is nothing new here: the “circular exchange” was initiated by the government itself and began to be implemented before the appearance of the resolution. Two arguments were put forward as justification. First, since such weapons are well known to the Ukrainian military, they can be used immediately: there is no need to organize training. There will be no big problems with spare parts and ammunition either.
Secondly, the government says, there are no extra weapons in the Bundeswehr “bins”. If the first argument is practically not questioned, then Scholz's opponents consider the second an excuse. Which may not be entirely fair.
According to a recent admission by German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, of the 350 Puma infantry fighting vehicles in service with the Bundeswehr – today the main German infantry fighting vehicle – only 150 are in good condition. With helicopters, the situation is even worse: out of 51 “Tigers” (Eurocopter Tiger, an attack helicopter of a joint German-French development), only nine can get off the ground.
Ammunition is also a problem. Indicative in this sense is the story of the Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. The decision to supply Ukraine with this withdrawn 10 years ago from service, but still quite combat-ready equipment, taken at the beginning of the week by Olaf Scholz, is considered a turning point in the “Ukrainian” policy of the current German cabinet. In total, 50 such ZSUs are supposed to be sent to Ukraine.
But an interesting detail turned out: all these old men in warehouses have only 23 thousand shells. As Bild journalists calculated, given the rate of fire of the Gepard's guns – it only has two guns – this amount of ammunition is enough for it only for 20 minutes of fire. One installation! Therefore, the shells for the “Cheetahs” are now being assembled according to the principle “from the world in a string.” In a literal sense, a request was sent to countries to which these vehicles were previously exported.
By the way, one of the key points of the resolution is support for the idea of the head of the cabinet to allocate 100 billion euros in the form of a “special budget” for the modernization of the Bundeswehr. As German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democratic Party, put it during a parliamentary debate, “15 years of neglect of our armed forces must be ended” – a clear nod to the policies of Angela Merkel's cabinet.
Therefore There are no disagreements in the German political elite today. As for the Ukrainian issue, the debate will certainly continue. The “pitfall” resolution introduced into the text – deliveries to Ukraine should not harm Germany's defense capability – in principle, allow the government to continue its previous course.
However, no matter how cautious and tortuous it may be, there is no doubt , will remain unchanged – in the direction of an increasingly tough confrontation with Russia.