Germany commits to billions in military aid for Ukraine

Germany agreed on Wednesday to give billions of euros of new military aid to Ukraine in the coming years to bolster Kyiv's fight back against Russia.

Ukraine military tanks
Ukrainian soldiers sit on a tank near the front line. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Kateryna Klochko

Berlin has shifted away from a traditionally pacifist stance since Moscow sent its forces into Ukraine last year, becoming one of Kyiv’s biggest military backers.

Parliament’s budget committee gave the green light for about eight billion euros ($8.7 billion) to be spent on directly purchasing weapons and equipment for Ukraine.

Around 12 billion euros in total will be released related to the Ukraine conflict over the next decade or so.

The other four billion will go to the German military to replenish stocks.

The Bundeswehr was already underfunded before the Ukraine war, and the situation has worsened as Berlin rushes cutting-edge gear to Kyiv.

The news represents a “very important step with which we make it clear that we are supporting Ukraine in the long term in its fight against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” said German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius.

The agreement will allow supplies including armoured vehicles, tanks, and ammunition to be delivered to Ukraine in the coming years, according to a statement from the minister.

The German army will also be able to buy new equipment.

Critics say the Bundeswehr has suffered from years of neglect and underinvestment, a product of the country’s deep-rooted post-war guilt.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged a major funding boost for the military.

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

But progress has been slow — none of a special €100 billion fund earmarked for the overhaul has yet been spent, it emerged earlier this month.

A senior lawmaker tasked with scrutinising the armed forces meanwhile said they were lacking in everything, with soldiers living in “pitiful” barracks.

This week, Scholz confirmed that promised Leopard battle tanks had been delivered to Kyiv.

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Germany and western allies begin major Baltic Sea naval drills

Western allies kicked off a major German-led naval exercise in the Baltic Sea on Saturday amid rising tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

Germany and western allies begin major Baltic Sea naval drills

About 3,200 soldiers from 14 countries are taking part in the Northern Coasts 23 exercise, the German navy said in a statement.

The exercise will involve 30 ships, submarines, up to 19 aircraft and various landing units, it said.

 “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has radically altered the security situation in the Baltic Sea,” said NATO spokesperson Dylan White.

“Exercises like these send a clear message that NATO stands ready to defend every inch of allied territory.”

Other countries taking part include Italy, France, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the US.

It is the first time the German navy has been charged with “planning and conducting a manoeuvre of such magnitude”, said Rear Admiral Stephan Haisch, director of the manouevre.

The Northern Coasts series was launched by the German navy in 2007. Responsibility for the exercise alternates annually between Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

This year, for the first time, “a realistic scenario is being practised within the framework of alliance defence”, according to the German navy.

The exercise will take place off the coasts and on the territory of Latvia and Estonia.

Incidents involving Russian and Western aircraft have multiplied over the Black Sea and Baltic Sea during Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

Moscow said in May that it had intercepted four US strategic bombers above the Baltic Sea in two separate incidents in the space of one week.

Russia regularly holds naval drills in the Baltic Sea, often in response to NATO exercises in the area.

It last held drills in the area in early August.

The Russian navy has played a key role in Moscow’s assault on Ukraine by pummelling the Western-backed country with ship- and submarine-launched cruise missiles, among other weapons.