German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday that his country will supply Ukraine with new anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems, stepping up arms deliveries amid criticism that Germany isn’t doing enough to help Kyiv in its time of need.
Scholz told MPs that the government has decided to provide Ukraine with IRIS-T missiles developed by Germany together with other NATO nations, and radar systems to help locate enemy artillery.
It came in the face of claims at home and abroad that Germany has been slow to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself against the Russian onslaught. While many European nations have sent heavy weaponry to Ukraine, Germany has up until now limited itself to ammunition and lighter armaments.
Scholz sought to defend Germany's record on Wednesday, saying the country had provided "continuous" support since the beginning of the war.
According to him, Germany has sent more than 15 million rounds of ammunition, 100,000 grenades and more than 5,000 anti-tank mines to Ukraine since 24 February. In itself, he said, this had represented a "massive change of policy".
Fierce fighting in Donbas
The announcement comes as Ukrainian forces are engaged in a grinding battle for the eastern industrial region of the Donbas.
Following a series of setbacks, Russian troops have switched focus back to the Donbas and appear to be intent on capturing the parts of the region not already held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Military analysts have said the battles in the Donbas are a race against time, with the Kremlin hoping for a victory before more Western arms arrive to bolster Ukraine's defences.
On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said his country would provide Ukraine with high-tech, medium-range rocket systems, a critical weapon the latter has been pleading for to stall the Russian advance.
The rockets could be used both to intercept Russian artillery and to take out Russian positions in towns where fighting is intense, such as in Sievierodonetsk.