Ukraine receives German rocket launchers in latest batch of weapons aid

Berlin sends anti-aircraft tanks and howitzers to bolster Ukraine's defence against Russia's offensive

Germany has sent the first three of 15 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks promised to Ukraine. AFP
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Germany has delivered three anti-aircraft tanks, three rocket launchers and three howitzers to Ukraine in its latest batch of military aid amid the Russian invasion.

The shipment included three Mars II multiple-launch rocket systems, the first of that class of weapon provided by Germany more than a month after it said it would hand them over.

The hold-up had been attributed by German officials to technical checks and measures to equip Ukrainian troops with the necessary training to operate the weapons, which have a range of 84 kilometres and are similar to American M270 models.

Andriy Yermak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, confirmed receipt of the Mars IIs and said they would be used to counter Russia's "politics of terror and blackmail".

Ukraine said it had received the first three Gepard anti-aircraft tanks from Germany, out of 15 promised, which Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said would help to protect the country's skies.

The Gepard, which entered service in the 1970s with the West German military, is no longer used by the German army but some stocks have been retained by weapons manufacturers.

There were also another three PzH 2000 howitzers in the package, in addition to seven which Germany said it had already delivered. Some have been provided by the Dutch military.

Germany has frequently been accused of moving too slowly to provide weapons to Ukraine, which has sometimes gone public with its frustration at Berlin, but Mr Reznikov said he was grateful for Germany's support.

The latest shipment was "a very strong message of resolve a day before the reduction of gas supply by Russia", said German diplomat Miguel Berger, referring to a cut in deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

The latest set of rankings by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which collects data on aid to Ukraine, showed Germany was sixth β€” behind the US, Poland, Britain, Canada and Norway β€” on the list of countries that have offered the most military support to Ukraine.

American M270 rocket launchers arrived in Ukraine this month while Britain has promised the same equipment and training on how to use it.

Ukraine-Russia conflict - in pictures

Mr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday, as he accepted the Winston Churchill Leadership Award from Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that Ukraine's allies needed to keep up the flow of weapons.

Military experts have said that Ukraine's formidable resistance since the invasion in February could still be worn down by Russian numerical superiority if the war grinds on.

"Perhaps for the first time in the history of mankind we are now able to show everyone in the world and for ages that democracies, united, can stop any tyranny, even if, at first, it seems that it has unlimited resources for aggression," Mr Zelenskyy said.

"That is why it is necessary to continue the supply of modern and effective weapons to our state in sufficient quantities to finally break the offensive potential of Russian tyranny."

Updated: July 27, 2022, 12:38 PM