SLIAC, Slovakia: Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, in addition to the five artillery systems the Dutch government has already promised, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Friday (May 6).
Germany reversed its long-standing policy of not sending heavy weapons to war zones last week after pressure at home and abroad to help Ukraine defend against Russian attacks.
The heavy weapons will come out of Bundeswehr inventories and will be delivered as soon as they come out of maintenance over the next few weeks, Lambrecht and his defense chief, Gen. Eberhard Zorn, told reporters in the Slovak town of Sliac.
Training of the first group of about 20 Ukrainian troops in the Panzerhaubitze 2000 is expected to start next week in the German city of Idar-Oberstein, Zorn said, adding that these troops had experience operating Soviet-made howitzers.
Ukraine’s pleas for heavy weapons have intensified since Moscow directed its increased firepower into the country’s east and south after failing to take the capital, kyiv.
Berlin will also supply a first package of ammunition for howitzers built by the German defense company KMW, Zorn said, with purchases of additional ammunition to be arranged directly between kyiv and the company.
The Panzerhaubitze 2000 is one of the most powerful artillery weapons in the Bundeswehr’s inventories and can hit targets at a range of 40 km.
The German Army has about 100 2000 howitzers in its stocks, but only 40 are combat-ready.
Last week, Berlin agreed for the first time to supply kyiv with heavy weapons, in that case Gepard air defense tanks, after critics accused Germany of delaying deliveries of heavy weapons to kyiv.
Most of the heavy weapons that NATO countries have sent to Ukraine so far are Soviet-made weapons that are still in the inventories of Eastern European NATO member states, but the United States and some other allies have started supplying Western howitzers to kyiv.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say that the fascist accusation is unfounded and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
Lambrecht will meet his Dutch counterpart Kajsa Ollongren later in Sliac, where both countries have deployed Patriot air defense since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.