May 23, 2022 7:54 am

London sells arms to Kiev but avoids the short route: the skies of Germany

Correspondent in Berlin



British Defense Minister, Ben Wallace, has provided light armor-piercing and anti-tank defense systems to Ukraine to improve its defense capabilities in case of a Russian invasion. Wallace has not specified the quantity, the type of weapons, or the route they followed until they reached the hands of his Ukrainian counterpart, Anatoly Petrenko, but according to a report in the UK Defense Journal, the logistical operation of moving the weapons was quite complicated due to the problems posed by the German authorities. Despite the defensive nature of the equipment, British aircraft had to make significant rerouting to avoid German airspace due to the Berlin Government’s opposition to lending their skies for this purpose.

The website revealed the surprising flight path that British C-17 transport planes were forced to follow through the North Sea, then through Denmark and Poland, to finally land on Ukrainian soil.

The spokesman for the German Defense Ministry, Christian Thiels, has confirmed that the allied British authorities they did not obtain permission to cross German airspace. “Although there is a basic permit for military flights between allies, this is limited to the transport of certain goods,” he explained, “the British did not request that special permit, I cannot say why, that would have to be asked of London, but I would suggest that, if you look at the map of Europe, you have to check which countries you are going to fly through to establish the most direct route and do the necessary paperwork».

on deaf ears

Bureaucracy and multiplication of permits among allies does not seem the most effective way to deal with a military threat. The British Ministry of Defense has confirmed for its part that it did not make requests for access, despite the fact that it no longer belongs to the EU, and has lamented the German reluctance to get involved with any transfer of weapons to Ukraine, a reluctance that has later been verified. by German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit: “Germany does not supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.” It is useless for London to insist that they are ‘defensive weapons’. The matter touches on delicate historical questions and existential questions for some of the parties that form the ‘Stoplight coalition’ who rules in Berlin.

Kiev authorities have repeatedly called on Germany to abandon its policy of refusing to supply Ukraine with weapons in the face of the Russian threat, but that position was reaffirmed during a visit to Kiev this week by the new German government’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock. In mid-December last year, in an interview with the Financial Times, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov already regretted that Germany had prevented the Ukrainian Army from buy weapons under the NATO umbrella in recent months and nothing seems to have softened Baerbock on the matter, despite acknowledging the “imminent danger of war”.

hide in history

Behind this blunt refusal lies the text of the agreement to form the current government coalition between liberal Social Democrats and Greens, which contains the commitment of a restrictive arms export policy and that it does not allow arms deliveries to regions in crisis. “The idea that Germany supplies weapons that can later be used to kill Russians is very difficult for many Germans to digest,” explains Marcel Dirsus, of the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel, who refers to the trace he has Hitler’s invasion of Russia left in German public morals.

The Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin, Andrij Melynk, has an answer to each of these objections and calls on Germany not to hide behind its history so as not to give an effective response to the current situation. “That sense of responsibility must be applied to the Ukrainian people, who lost at least eight million lives during the Nazi occupation,” he says, recalling that “the text of the coalition pact is not the Bible.” He has also pointed out that German law considers the ‘omission of aid’ as a crime and that “this same basic principle applies in international relations.”

Melynk specifies that “we mainly need German warships, which are among the best in the world and which we urgently need for the defense of the long coast of the Black and Azov Seas, in addition to state-of-the-art anti-aircraft defense systems that German companies they are currently manufacturing. “Therefore, we call on the German government, and in particular the Defense Minister, to urgently help Ukraine with the necessary defensive weapons.” “This is a moral and human imperative”, insists the ambassador, “especially at a time when Europe and the world are facing the greatest danger of a great war in central Europe since 1945.

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