Germany pushes for stricter sanctions against Russia

Germany will propose measures to close loopholes in EU sanctions against Moscow that are letting embargoed goods flow into Russia and feed its "war machine", the economy

Borodyanka Ukraine war
A destroyed building in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Thibault Camus

Berlin will push for the action to be a key part of an 11th EU sanctions package targeting Moscow following a 10th round to be announced Friday, the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Export data has shown that embargoed goods are still arriving in Russia through third-party states despite the sanctions, the ministry said.

Under its proposal, companies would have to submit declaration forms detailing the end use of exports to third-party nations of goods that are key for the “Russian war machine”.

“We are working together with our partners to ensure that deliberate violations of the obligation to submit truthful end-use declarations would in future be a criminal offence throughout Europe,” according to the proposal seen by AFP.

Discussions are ongoing within the bloc to prevent certain companies in third countries from receiving sanctioned goods.

Further, Berlin wants companies or individuals to themselves land on a sanctions list if they aid Moscow in circumventing embargoes.

“Foreign trade data available to us indicate that a considerable amount of EU sanctioned goods are exported from the EU, and therefore also from Germany to certain third countries, and then from there further exported to Russia,” the ministry said in the proposal.

READ ALSO: How the war in Ukraine has changed Germany

“Even if we don’t have all the data, we must together counter these circumventing activities in a more effective way than before — on the national and EU levels.”

Economy Minister Robert Habeck noted that in some countries, the number of items like trucks or pickups imported from Europe has been stable for years, but “all of a sudden it goes steeply upwards with the start of the war”.

He told the broadcasters RTL and NTV that a declaration on the final destination of such goods could help EU nations check if the products remained in the third countries or if they were later moved on to other sites.

READ ALSO: Zelensky urges world leaders “to hurry up” at Munich Conference

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


German arms maker struggles to meet demand as Ukraine war rages

In a factory in a tranquil German village, 120 mm tank shells with black-painted tips, packed into wooden crates, sit on pallets waiting to be delivered to Ukraine.

German arms maker struggles to meet demand as Ukraine war rages

Leading arms manufacturer Rheinmetall is racing to meet demand for weapons and ammunition to supply Kyiv, as well as Germany and  other NATO countries which are bolstering their defences after draining stockpiles.

In March, as intense fighting continued around Bakhmut, NATO’s chief said “we need to ramp up production” warning Ukraine’s usage is outstripping allies’ production capacity. 

“We are pulling out all the stops when it comes to production of ammunition for tanks,” said Harald Weismüller, head of the factory in Unterlüß, Lower Saxony.

Germany has long been a major arms maker and exporter, but in a country still haunted by guilt over Nazi atrocities in World War II, its manufacturers have kept a relatively low profile.

But as Russia’s war in Ukraine spurs demand, business is booming for Rheinmetall, which has seen orders surge and in March joined Frankfurt’s blue-chip DAX stock index.

The European Union has agreed on a plan to spend €2 billion on artillery shells for Ukraine to try to get a million rounds of artillery ammunition to the country over twelve months.

Kyiv had told the EU it needed 350,000 shells a month to support troops, saying its forces were having to ration firepower as the conflict turned into a grinding war of attrition.

READ ALSO: Germany unveils 2.7 bn euro weapons package for Ukraine

Among the wide array of armaments produced at Rheinmetall’s major Unterlüß plant are shells for Leopard 2 battle tanks, which can travel at
1,700 metres (5,580 feet) per second and pierce the armour of a Russian tank.

Between 400 and 500 shells can be produced in an eight-hour shift, and the rate could be increased, said Weismüller.

After huge pressure, Berlin agreed in January that German-made Leopards — for which Rheinmetall makes parts, and which are developed by manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann — could be sent to Ukraine. The first tanks were delivered in late March. 

New production lines

From 60,000 a year before the war, Rheinmetall has ramped up production to 240,000 of the tank shells annually.

The firm is Europe’s biggest manufacturer of ammunition for tanks and artillery, ahead of Norway’s Nammo and France’s Nexter.

This position will be cemented with the acquisition of Spain’s Expal, a leading manufacturer of 120 mm shells.

Such is the boom in demand that the company is sitting on a backlog of orders worth €18.5 billion — three times its sales in 2022.

As well as supplying Ukraine, Germany’s decision to beef up its armed forces in the wake of the Ukraine war is helping to drive the surge.

READ ALSO: German military has ‘too little of everything’

Rheinmetall Marder

A technician of German armaments company and automotive supplier Rheinmetall inspects an armored infantry fighting vehicle Marder at the Rheinmetall facility in Unterlüß. Photo: Axel Heimken / AFP

Rheinmetall estimates that Europe’s biggest economy will need to spend around €40 billion to replenish its stocks of armaments.

At Unterlüß, new machines are being installed and whole new production lines set up.

Equipment to make 35 mm shells fired by Gepard anti-aircraft tanks should begin production in less than six weeks, Weissmüller said, with up to 500,000 to be produced a year.

The shells are also produced in Switzerland but authorities in the traditionally neutral country have refused to allow their export to conflict zones.

The factory has also ramped up production of 155 mm shells for self-propelled howitzers, which can hit targets 25 kilometres away.

Elsewhere in the plant, old armoured vehicles, with patches of rust, have been completely dismantled, as workers prepare to refurbish them to be deployed once again on the battlefield.

This includes the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, dozens of which have already been sent to Ukraine.

Booming demand means the 2,400 staff at the site are working flat out, as the sound of shots ring out from Leopard 2 cannons being tested on an adjacent firing range, the largest in Europe.