Germany will increase its military support fund for foreign countries to 2 billion euros, a significant part of which will go to Ukraine to help it buy weapons, Finance Minister Christian Lindner announced on Friday evening.
Lindner wrote on Twitter that Germany will increase its Ertüchtigungshilfe – a financial support tool to strengthen military and security forces in partner countries – to 2 billion euros, adding that “the funds will largely benefit Ukraine”.
The fund was 225 million euros last year. The increase in foreign military aid will be part of Germany’s supplementary budget for this year, Lindner said, adding that Chancellor Olaf Scholz “has asked for this”.
Lindner’s tweet followed earlier reports from Reuters and German media that more than €1 billion in aid was going to Kyiv. Ukraine expects a major Russian military offensive in the east of the country and has urged Western allies, including Germany, to provide it with heavy weapons like tanks, artillery, helicopters and planes of fight.
Germany sent military supplies to kyiv, including grenades, anti-aircraft rockets, machine guns and ammunition, but no heavy weapons.
The European Union decided last week to massively increase its financial support for the Ukrainian army to 1.5 billion euros. Part of this support, also supposed to allow kyiv to buy weapons, is financed by Germany. It is unclear how much of the fresh money announced by Lindner is actually new and how much Germany would have provided anyway under Berlin’s commitments to the EU.
Lindner’s announcement follows growing criticism from the German government, and in particular Scholz, over its reluctance to supply Ukraine with tanks and other heavy weapons.
Prominent lawmakers from Germany’s ruling coalition, which consists of the Social Democrats, the Greens and Lindner’s Liberal Democratic Party (FDP), have urged Scholz to allow such deliveries.
But the question is politically delicate. Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck told POLITICO on Thursday that NATO allies fear modern tank deliveries will mean Western nations “become [Russian] target themselves. The Czech Republic is already shipping old Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine.
The recently announced financial support could allow Kyiv to purchase tanks directly from German defense companies like Rheinmetall, although it is still unclear whether Scholz and Habeck would approve of such sales.
German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, who is from the FDP, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the delivery of German heavy weapons to Ukraine was legally possible without going to war.
Ukraine is waging an authorized defensive war against Russia, Buschmann said, “so if it exercises its legitimate right of self-defense, supporting it by supplying arms cannot lead to becoming a party to the war.”
He added that this was not just his personal view, but that of the German government.