In a major change, Germany will send weapons to Ukraine – News-Herald

VIENNA (AP) — In a significant change, the German government said Saturday it will send weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine, which is fighting to prevent Russia from invading its capital. Germany is also ready to support some SWIFT global banking system restrictions for Russia as well, officials said.

The German Chancellery announced on Saturday evening that it would send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 “Stinger” surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine “as soon as possible”.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a turning point. It threatens our entire post-war order,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement. “In this situation, it is our duty to help Ukraine to the best of our ability to defend itself against Vladimir Putin’s invading army.”

The news came shortly after Germany’s economics and climate ministry said on Saturday night that Germany was allowing the Netherlands to ship 400 German-made anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. The government also approved the shipment of 9 D-30 howitzers and ammunition from Estonia.

Germany had long adhered to a policy of not exporting lethal weapons to conflict zones, including Ukraine. As recently as Friday, government officials said they would abide by the policy.

But the country – which has the strongest economy in the European Union at 27 – has been criticized by Ukrainian officials and other allies that it has not acted decisively enough to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion. Previously, Germany provided 5,000 helmets to Ukraine’s defence, a decision that was mocked on Twitter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the news of the arms deliveries, posting praise for Scholz on Twitter: “Keep it up Chancellor @OlafScholz! The anti-war coalition in action!

In addition, Germany’s Economics and Climate Ministry said on Saturday that Germany would send 14 armored vehicles and up to 10,000 tonnes of fuel to Ukraine.

“After Russia’s brazen attack, Ukraine must be able to defend itself,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement. “The federal government is therefore helping Ukraine to provide the necessary materials urgently.”

And after previously opposing the prospect of banning Russia from the SWIFT global financial system, Baerbock and Habeck said Germany supports a “targeted and functional restriction” of SWIFT.

What is needed is a strategy to “limit the collateral damage of SWIFT decoupling so that it affects the right people,” Baerbock and Habeck said.

Separately on Saturday, the United States announced $350 million in aid to Ukraine, totaling $1 billion in security assistance since President Joe Biden took office. The additional aid includes “anti-armour, small arms and miscellaneous ammunition, body armor and related equipment,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby. A senior defense official said the assistance, which includes Javelin anti-tank weapons, will be delivered to Ukraine in phases and as soon as possible. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

Other nations have pledged military aid. Italy announced earlier this week that it would send non-lethal military equipment such as demining equipment and protective gear for soldiers.

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Follow all AP stories on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

Christi C. Elwood