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German government under increasing pressure over its stance on Ukraine

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By Euronews
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People attend a pro-Ukrainian protest under the slogan "March for true Peace in Ukraine", in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, April 16, 2022.
People attend a pro-Ukrainian protest under the slogan "March for true Peace in Ukraine", in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, April 16, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Hannibal Hanschke

With its industrial sector heavily dependent on Russian gas and its political leaders seemingly reluctant to deliver heavy weapons to the Donbas region of Ukraine, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under mounting criticism.

The premier says his country will continue to enable weapons deliveries to Ukraine and is indicating that one preference is to send in systems from eastern European nations that would be easily and quickly usable.

Scholz has faced increasing pressure from within his own governing coalition and from Germany's main opposition party to deliver heavy weapons such as tanks to Ukraine.

Euronews spoke with reporter Kate Brady in Berlin on Wednesday who said Scholz has emphasised that the German military cannot offer more than it has right now.

After conferring with US President Joe Biden and other western leaders on Tuesday, Scholz said "we are ready to support our NATO partners who still have weapon systems that originate from Russian production, can be used in Ukraine itself, and are ready for immediate deployment".

Asked whether German Leopard tanks could be used in the fight in eastern Ukraine, Scholz said Germany and other partners in the Group of Seven industrial nations had concluded that it makes the most sense to send in systems that are already used in Ukraine.

“It is clear that we will all continue to support Ukraine financially and militarily. Our actions are guided by these principles: maximum support for Ukraine, but no NATO involvement in the war. All this is being done in close coordination with our partners here in Europe and on the other side of the Atlantic. It would be wrong for Germany to go it alone” he said.

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock began a tour of the Baltic states on Wednesday and also reiterated Scholz's message in a press conference with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevics. She said that Germany does not have the capacity to send more military equipment but noted that the German government has sent "anti-tank Stingers and other things that we didn't talk about in public so that the deliveries could be carried out quickly and securely".

"The issue of heavy machinery is not a taboo subject for us, although it sometimes sounds like that during debates in Germany. We have supported such deliveries, but in the short term, we cannot deliver anything in this area quickly. In a meeting with our colleagues in Brussels, NATO, and the G7, we agreed to support partners who could quickly supply Soviet-made weapons to Ukraine, but we would provide a reserve" she added.

The minister maintained that she believes "foreign policy means not only quick promises that cannot be fulfilled, but to be honest about what is real now: to develop creative ideas to support others, not just in the coming days, but in the months and years to come".