US Senate Republican leader urges more German support for Ukraine

8 February 2022, 04:14 PM

Germany should help Ukraine with its “legitimate military capabilities so it can better defend itself against Russian aggression,” U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Feb. 7, during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Washington.

His comments came amid German refusal to provide Ukraine with lethal aid amid the looming threat of a further Russian invasion.

“The time is now for Germany to stand up and protect the peace and defend the stable Europe that modern Germany itself has helped construct, and from which it has benefitted,” McConnell said in the U.S. Senate.

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McConnell also called on Scholz to “declare firmly and simply that Russian escalation in Europe will result in the termination of (the) Nord Stream-2 (gas pipeline).”

“Not another pause; the end of the pipeline, period.”

According to the U.S. senator, such a statement would be “a powerful demonstration of German leadership.”

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been a controversial project from its conception, as it runs directly from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, cutting out traditional intermediaries such as Ukraine.

Ukraine has criticized the project, saying it will serve as a “gas weapon” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and cut Ukraine off from much-needed transit fees.

Germany against arms supplies to Ukraine

In June 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv would like to receive defensive weapons from Germany, in particular, patrol boats, rifles, radio equipment, and armored personnel carriers.

In response, the then German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas said that the conflict in eastern Ukraine “can only be resolved by political means” and “arms deliveries won’t help.”

In December 2021, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov claimed that Germany was blocking the supply of weapons to Kyiv through NATO.

“They are still building the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline and at the same time blocking our defense weapons. This is very unfair,” he said.

According to German tabloid newspaper Bild, it was former German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was blocking the supply of weapons to Ukraine through NATO.

On Jan. 5, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced that Germany had a “different position” to the United States on the supply of arms to Ukraine, but was supporting Ukraine’s armed forces through medical supplies and helping in the treatment of Ukrainian soldiers wounded in the conflict.

In addition, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the country would follow the “wise policy of the former government” not to supply weapons to Ukraine.

On Jan. 21, Germany received a request from Estonia to approve the supply of German-made 122mm howitzers to Ukraine.

On the same day, the U.S. daily newspaper The Wall Street Journal reported that Germany had rejected the request.

According to the German government, Berlin is guided by its conviction to “not sell weapons to countries embroiled in armed conflicts,” and that lethal aid “would not advance de-escalation efforts.”

At the same time, according to German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, in September 2021, Berlin approved the shipping of lethal weapons to Egypt, Qatar and Turkey to be used in deadly conflicts in Yemen and Libya.

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