The reality behind the U-turn
You have probably heard quite a lot in recent days about Germany’s “U-turn” on its previous refusal to send heavy weaponry to Ukraine.
This isn’t as big a deal as you might think.
As background: For weeks there have been murmurs about a proposed shipment of around a 100 Marder infantry fighting vehicles.
At first, the arms company Rheinmetall proposed that the Bundeswehr could immediately send 100 Marder from its own arsenal and replace them with refurbished ones that were slowly rusting at the company’s HQ.
The Defence Ministry refused: it said that such a move would impact the Bundeswehr’s ability to defend Germany (for context, the Marder is a tank from the 1970s that was supposed to be entirely decommissioned by 2020, but its replacement, the Puma, has been plagued by technical problems).
Plan B: Rheinmetall proposed that it could refurbish the old tanks and send them batch-by-batch to Ukraine. But that application is still waiting on an export licence from the Bundessicherheitsrat (Germany’s security council), which is headed by Olaf Scholz.