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Germany's Scholz draws 'line in the sand' over Taurus

March 13, 2024

Chancellor Scholz told lawmakers in the Bundestag that it would be irresponsible to supply the long-distance weapon to Ukraine without German military oversight.

Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz
It is the first time this year Olaf Scholz answered questioned by politicians in the BundestagImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Chancellor Olaf Scholz told German lawmakers that he refused to arm Ukraine with long-range Taurus missiles, saying it was a "line in the sand" for him.

On Wednesday, lawmakers in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, asked him about Germany's support for Ukraine and his reluctance to send Taurus missiles.

The chancellor's position has drawn harsh criticism from the conservative opposition CDU/CSU bloc. Others in his ruling coalition, namely the environmentalist Greens and the neoliberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), are also in favor of sending the weapons.

"From my point of view, this is a very long-range weapon," he told lawmakers. "Given the significance of not losing control over targets, this weapon could not be used without the deployment of German soldiers," he said. 

The air-launched Taurus missiles have a range of about 500 kilometers (310 miles) and would allow Ukraine to hit targets well behind the front line.

Scholz also rejected a suggestion that he doesn't trust Ukraine.

"We trust Ukraine," he said, adding Germany has supplied more weapons to Ukraine than any other European country. 

Scholz again rules out sending Taurus missiles

Russia spy leak 

Later, during a debate requested by the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD), lawmakers are to address Russia's interception of a sensitive conversation about Taurus missiles by senior Bundeswehr officers that was leaked in early March.

In the call, the military officials can be heard discussing the possible use of the Taurus system by Kyiv. They also mention that the missiles could, under certain conditions, be launched by Ukraine without involvement by German officials — contradicting earlier statements by Scholz.

On Wednesday Scholz said it does not matter where the German soldiers operate from, "As chancellor, I have a responsibility to prevent Germany from becoming involved in this war." 

The issue is "where will be targeted... where will be hit", Scholz said.

"That should not happen with German soldiers," he added.

Germany probes Russian tapping of Ukraine talks

lo, nm/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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