Germany lifts ban on sending lethal weapons to Ukraine

On Saturday government approved the delivery of 400 rocket propelled grenades

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his government approved a delivery of weapons to Ukraine. AFP
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Germany said it has approved the delivery of 400 rocket-propelled grenades to Ukraine by a third country.

The policy shift came after it faced criticism for refusing to send weapons to Kiev, as Western allies did.

Germany had a long-standing policy of not exporting weapons to war zones.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly referred to this in recent weeks when refusing to deliver lethal weapons to Ukraine.

But on Saturday, an EU official confirmed that Germany had agreed to allow the Netherlands to supply the weapons. Countries aiming to pass on German weapons exports need to apply for approval in Berlin.

The Netherlands Defence Ministry said on Saturday it will send anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.

It will supply 50 Panzerfaust-3 anti-tank weapons and 400 rockets, the ministry said in a letter to Parliament.

The Netherlands is also jointly considering with Germany sending a Patriot air defence system to a Nato battle group in Slovakia, it said

In the case of the rocket-propelled grenades, Germany had delivered them to a third country in the past, an EU diplomat told Reuters.

Germany is still in the process of considering a request by Estonia to pass GDR-era howitzers to Ukraine.

Finland bought them in the 1990s after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and later sold them to Estonia.

Earlier on Saturday, Germany sent its warship the Erfurt from the Wilhelmshaven naval base to reinforce the Nato naval unit.

The ship will join the Standing Nato Maritime Group 1 naval unit on sea routes in the North Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

Siemtje Moeller, German state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence, said it was "necessary to act resolutely" following the "unparalleled aggression" and the start of an "aggressive war" by Russia in Ukraine.

"We must send visible signs of alliance, solidarity and also, of deterrence," she said.

The transfer of the warship is part of Germany's contribution to strengthening Nato's northern flank against the backdrop of Russia's presence in Ukraine.

Updated: February 27, 2022, 4:50 AM