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.
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.