Berlin will not supply weapons to Ukraine for now amid a security crisis on the Russia-Ukraine border, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in an interview published Saturday, drawing criticism from Ukrainian officials.
The delivery of weapons “will not help to defuse the crisis at the moment,” according to Lambrecht, who stressed that the federal government is in agreement on the issue.
“I can understand that we want to support Ukraine, and that’s exactly what we are doing already,” Lambrecht told Welt am Sonntag.
“Ukraine will receive a complete field hospital together with the necessary training in February, all co-financed by Germany for €5.3 million,” she said, noting that Germany is “already treating seriously injured Ukrainian soldiers in hospitals of the Bundeswehr.”
“We are therefore at the side of Kyiv. We must now do everything in our power to defuse the crisis,’ she said.
Russia has sent some 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine, and demanded that the country never become a member of NATO. Western and Russian diplomats remain deeply divided over conflicting security interests and have warned of an ongoing risk of military conflict.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba criticized Berlin’s response to the crisis, highlighting its refusal to send — or allow the transfer of — defense weapons to Kyiv, as well as skepticism from Germany’s foreign ministry about cutting Russian banks off from the global Swift payments system.
“Ukraine is grateful to Germany for its support since 2014, as well as for its diplomatic efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. But Germany’s current statements are disappointing and run counter to this support and effort,” he tweeted.
Earlier this week, the U.K. flew 2,000 anti-tank missiles to Kyiv, in what British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said was a response to “the increasingly threatening behavior from Russia.”
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia announced Friday they will send Stinger ground-to-air missiles to Ukraine after receiving approval from the U.S. State Department.
But Berlin has blocked Estonia from sending German-origin artillery to Kyiv by refusing the issue the necessary permits, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, defense ministry spokesperson David Helmbold confirmed “there has been an inquiry from the Estonian government with regard to the delivery or transfer of howitzers.” He added that the ministry is “in the process of coordinating our departments on this issue.”
“The seriousness of the situation requires the coalition government to immediately rethink and change course on the issue of arms deliveries to Ukraine,” Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk told Handelsblatt on Saturday, adding: Kyiv will “not rest in convincing the German government and the opposition to deliver defensive weapons to Ukraine.”
This article has been updated.
Hans von der Burchard contributed reporting.
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