German government faces pressure to deliver long-range missiles to Ukraine

The German chancellor and his government are under increasing pressure to provide long-range cruise missile aid to Ukraine.

Andreas Schwarz and Nils Schmid, two members of Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), recently joined a group calling for Germany to deliver the Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers to Ukraine.

“The counter-offensive is slowing down. Ukraine does not have significant air support,” Schwarz said on August 6. “So Ukraine needs weapons like Taurus cruise missiles to get through the minefields that Russia has set up and take back the territory.”

Schmid, the SPD member in charge of policy in the German parliament, echoed Schwarz’s comments cautiously that the country “doesn’t rule out the possibility of coordinating with the US to provide systems” such as cruise missiles. Taurus.

However, Schmid insists it is important to ensure that Ukrainian soldiers, not Germans, can program the missile’s target. Otherwise, this would push Germany “closer to the danger of being directly involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” Schmid said.

Taurus KEPD 350 is an aircraft-launched cruise missile equipped with stealth technology and has a range of about 500 km. The missile weighs 1.4 tons, carries a warhead weighing 481 kg, can fly at an altitude of 30-70 km with a speed of Mach 0.6-0.95.

Western experts said that if Germany approves the transfer of Taurus KEPD 350 missiles, this move will accelerate Ukraine’s counterattack starting in June. This operation has made only partial progress so far, while Ukrainian forces have suffered many losses.

Ukrainian infantry units, with their German-built Leopard 2 tanks, American M2 Bradley armored vehicles and various other Western-supplied NATO-standard weapons, struggled to break through fortified defenses with dense Russian minefields.

In an effort to shape the battlefield to facilitate the operation, Ukraine repeatedly launched Storm Shadow/SCALP EG missiles with a range of 250 km provided by the UK to the Russian army’s arsenal, fuel and headquarters. The same civil infrastructure as road bridges. Russia then struck a Ukrainian airbase in response.

France in July announced that it would provide Ukraine with Storm Shadow/SCALP EG missiles. However, Germany and the US were more hesitant in this regard. German officials fear the risk of an escalation of hostilities when the country supplies Ukraine with weapons with a range of more than 500 km, which can be used to attack Russian territory.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said last week that supplying the Taurus missile, built by Germany’s MBDA and a subsidiary of Swedish group Saab, “is not our top priority right now.”

Mr. Pistorius said Germany, the country’s second-largest arms aid to Ukraine after the United States, was not the only country hesitant on the issue. Minister Pistorius also confirmed that Germany’s Taurus missile “has an exceptional range”.

Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile at the exhibition in Berlin, Germany in August 2006.  Photo: Wikimedia

Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile at the exhibition in Berlin, Germany in August 2006. Photo: Wikimedia

The debate in Germany over the supply of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine is compared to the months-long discussion regarding aid to the Leopard 2 main battle tank.

After months of deliberation, Germany in January approved the aid of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and authorized the operation after the US made a similar commitment to the M1 Abrams tank.

Congressman Schwarz said he felt déjà vu (feeling like he’s been through the current situation before) with the Taurus missile debate. “Like main battle tanks, we are denying aid with weapons that will eventually be delivered,” Schwarz said, adding that Ukraine had never used the HIMARS rocket and its MARS II variant. Germany to attack Russian territory even if it could.

Colonel Yuriy Ignat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said that the Ukrainian forces wanted to receive the Taurus and Storm Shadow/SCALP EG cruise missiles. “We need more of these weapons. They will be effective in destroying Russia’s arsenal, pontoon and bridges,” Ignat said.