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It was very noticeable when this week British military flights delivering weapons to Ukraine deliberately avoided German airspace – so much so that Berlin issued a statement clarifying that the German government had not demanded this ahead of time, saying it has “not denied access to its airspace as the UK did not submit a request, there has been no dispute between the UK and Germany on this issue.”

Despite being a lead NATO country and close US ally, it’s become clear Berlin has sought to avoid unnecessarily provoking Moscow, also as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is soon to come online pending the significant hurdle of regulatory approval. This week it became evident that Germany will not directly export weapons to Ukraine, even as allies like the UK and US have begun to. This also has a lot to do with a long-standing arms export control policy which prevents German arms from going into geopolitical hot zones

After on Thursday the Biden administration authorized US-made arms to be “rushed delivered” via third party countries to Kiev in order to deter any possible ‘Russian aggression’ – namely from the Baltic allies of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia – this raised the question of whether German would allow for the same indirect weapons transfers. 

File image: US Army

On Friday afternoon The Wall Street Journal reported that Berlin has given its definitive answer, sticking by a strict interpretation of its arms transfer policy: “Germany is blocking North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally Estonia from giving military support to Ukraine by refusing to issue permits for German-origin weapons to be exported to Kyiv as it braces for a potential Russian invasion,” the report say.

Further, according to the WSJ, the German government is now prohibiting other countries from sending German-produced weapons to Ukraine:

Unlike the U.S., Britain, Poland and other allies, the German government has declined to export lethal weapons directly to Ukraine.

In the case of Estonia, a small country on Russia’s northern border, Berlin is also refusing to allow a third country to send artillery to Ukraine because the weaponry originated in Germany, according to Estonian and German officials.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov confirmed German’s “hesitation” to deliver arms. This also as German government spokesman reaffirmed “The principle governing arms exports” which “is always the same—whether they come directly from Germany or from third countries—and no permission has been issued at this stage.”

At the same time, it’s been revealed that Germany’s chancellor turned down a request to meet with President Joe Biden on Ukraine, saying it was too “short notice” – though there’s speculation it was again more about not angering Russia and avoidance of getting too deeply involved at his intense moment of the Russia-Ukraine standoff. 

“German Chancellor Olaf Scholz turned down an invite at short notice from U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss the Ukraine crisis, German magazine Der Spiegel said on Friday,” Reuters reports. “Scholz did not accept the invitation due to a full schedule, including a trip to Madrid, as well as the desire to show that he was present as Germany grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Der Spiegel.”

Should things escalate, this would put Berlin in a no-win situation, or between a rock and a hard place, given Russia’s is Germany’s main gas supplier, now locked in a ratcheting contests with its closes Western allies.


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