Germany Considers Shipping Rapid-Fire Howitzers to Ukraine

ZAGAN, POLAND - JUNE 12: PzH 2000 Howitzers of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, take part in the NATO Noble Jump military exercises during a live fire demonstration on June 12, 2019 in Zagan, Poland. The exercises include VJTF, or Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, units, as well as the I German-Netherlands Corps, with soldiers from Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland taking part. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is considering sending seven rapid-fire artillery systems to Ukraine in another step to shore up the country’s efforts to fend off Russian forces. 

By Arne Delfs and Michael Nienaber

Word Count: 429
(Bloomberg) —Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has recommended delivery of the PzH 2000 — a self-propelled, armored howitzer — according to officials familiar with the matter.Scholz is weighing the request, but there are also several other proposals on the table and he hasn’t granted final approval yet, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.“If approved, this would be a strong move by Chancellor Olaf Scholz as it would put Germany on par with Europe’s biggest weapons suppliers for Ukraine,” said Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow based in Brussels at the German Marshall Fund.

After resisting the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine, the government authorized the transfer of 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks last week and signaled more weapons would flow to Kyiv. Scholz has faced intense pressure over his hesitancy to supply advanced weapons systems to counter Russia’s invasion.

Read more: Germany Signals Shift on Weapons to Ukraine With Tank Deliveries

The 63-year-old Social Democrat said over the weekend that Germany is ready to do more and will continue to send weapons to Ukraine, pushing back against some domestic critics.

Scholz’s ruling coalition is discussing Russia’s war against Ukraine and its consequences for the German economy at a two-day cabinet retreat north of Berlin. No imminent decision over sending more weapons to Ukraine was expected during the meeting, said one of the officials.

Germany’s military capabilities have been hampered by years of limited funding, and military leaders have warned that sending howitzers could weaken the country’s defenses. The Bundeswehr has 119 PzH 2000s, but only 40 are currently operational, according to newspaper Die Welt, which earlier reported the government’s plans.

Kirkegaard said the concerns of Germany’s military leaders that the weapons deliveries could weaken the country’s own defense capabilities were “absurd” as the artillery would be used to defend not only Ukraine, but also Europe as a whole.

The Netherlands is already sending the PzH 2000, and Germany has offered to supply ammunition and training for the system, which can fire nine rounds a minute at targets as far as 30 kilometers (19 miles) away.

(Updates with comment from analyst in fourth paragraph)
© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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