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Germany to ship anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine

March 3, 2022

German officials are sending Soviet-made missiles to Ukraine, according to sources in the Economy Ministry. The German government did not immediately confirm the news.

A soldier holds up a Strela missile
The Strela missiles were part of the arsenal controlled by East Germany during the Cold WarImage: gemeinfrei

Berlin has approved a shipment of 2,700 Soviet-era, shoulder-fired Strela missiles to Ukraine, according to government sources cited by news agencies. 

The weapons would come out of the depots once overseen by Soviet-controlled East Germany, which reunited with West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Over the weekend, the German government decided to supply Ukraine with 500 US-made surface-to-air Stinger missiles and 1,000 anti-tank weapons.

A source told the Reuters news agency that the missiles were "ready to be transported" but that the Federal Security Council has yet to approve the move.

'Historical shift'

Germany had refused to send weaponsto Ukraine before the Russian government launched its offensive last Thursday. But the move marked "a historical shift," according to Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

"In this situation it is our duty to support Ukraine's defense against the invading army of Vladimir Putin to the best of our ability," he said after the attack.

Richard Walker, DW's chief international editor, said Germany could quickly send the shoulder-fired Strela missiles to Ukraine because they were readily available.

"These are not complicated weapons: they are a type of weapons that many people in the Ukrainian military would have been familiar with over the years," he said. 

Walker added the weapons would be easy to deploy because they are small enough to be carried by people.

He said despite the weapon deliveries, Germany doesn't want to "become part of this conflict."

A German lawmaker told DW he was surprised the weapons were still in the country's arsenal. 

"We are heavily searching now what we can afford to give away, and somebody found them, I was also surprised I did not even know that we have those Strela weapons still in our compartment," said Alexander Müller of the Free Democrats.

dj/nm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)