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Germany in talks to send Taurus missiles to Ukraine: reports

August 11, 2023

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is reportedly seeking changes to the programming of the Taurus cruise missiles to avoid Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory.

A German air force Tornado jet armed with two Taurus cruise missiles
Lauched from the air, Taurus cruise missiles have a range of some 500 kilometersImage: StockTrek Images/IMAGO

Germany mulls sending Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine

The German government is in talks with arms manufacturer MBDA regarding alterations to the programming of Taurus cruise missiles before their potential delivery to Ukraine, a source told Reuters news agency on Friday, confirming an earlier report by Germany's Der Spiegel newsmagazine.

Kyiv has been pushing Berlin to supply it with the Taurus, a cruise missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) that is launched by fighter jets such as the Tornado, the F-15 or the F-18.

While the UK and France have sent Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles to Ukraine, Germany has been reluctant amid concerns that the weapon could be used on targets in Russia

The United States has also refrained from sending its Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine.

How Russia uses Western tech in bombs bound for Ukraine

Following the reports on Friday, a German government spokesperson said there was "no new information" on the status of potential Taurus missile deliveries to Ukraine.

"Germany is focusing on heavy artillery, armored vehicles and air defense systems. There is no new information on the Taurus cruise missile," said the spokesperson.

According to Der Spiegel, the German Defense Ministry has asked Taurus' manufacturer to integrate programming restrictions on possible targets into long-range cruise missiles. With these changes German Chancellor Olaf Scholz aims to avoid the possibility of Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, the publication reported.

Why does Ukraine want Taurus cruise missiles?

The Taurus, and other cruise missiles, fly at low altitudes, making them difficult to detect by air defense systems.

Regarded as precision weapons, cruise missiles are normally used to hit high-value targets, including command bunkers and ammunition and fuel depots, further behind the front lines and out of range for other weapons.

Russia warned France and Germany in June that sending cruise missiles to Ukraine would lead to a further round of "spiraling tension" in Russia's war in Ukraine.

German opposition not against cruise missiles for Ukraine

Leaders of the German opposition conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have called for clarification of the government's stance on Taurus missiles to Ukraine.

Ukraine prepares for winter as war drags on

Senior CDU lawmaker Johann Wadephul said there should be no back-and-forth on the issue among the three parties that make up Scholz's government.

"For us, it is important that a decision to supply Taurus missiles must be well considered," he told the news agency dpa. "It must be clear that there is no involvement of German soldiers and that the subsequent delivery for the air force must be initiated at the same time as the delivery [of the missiles to Ukraine]."

In early July, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stressed that Berlin had a leading role in helping Ukraine with "air defense, training support, engineering and armored vehicles."

"This is our first priority, our core competency," Pistorius said at the time, adding that he saw "no urgent need for a decision" on the Swedish-German Taurus weapon system.

How many Taurus missiles does Germany have?

The German military has some 600 Taurus missiles in its inventories, with around 150 ready for use, according to media reports. The Spanish and South Korean militaries also operate the Taurus.

mfa/sms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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