Ukraine Says Germany ‘Encouraging Putin’ By Refusing To Supply Weapons

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht says Berlin will send a field hospital to Ukraine in February, but rejects the delivery of arms.  

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Germany of "undermining unity" and "encouraging Vladimir Putin" by refusing to supply weapons to Kyiv amid heightened fears of a possible Russian invasion.

Kuleba wrote on Twitter on January 22 that "recent statements by Germany about the impossibility of transferring defense weapons to Ukraine…do not correspond to the level of our relations and the current security situation."

While Kuleba said Kyiv was grateful to Berlin for its support since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and began backing separatist fighters in the east of the country, "Germany’s current stalemates are disappointing and run counter to this support and effort."

As Russian military and diplomatic moves and the massing an estimated 127,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders have heightened concerns of a possible invasion, some of Germany’s fellow NATO members have announced provisions of weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.

On January 22, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a newspaper interview that Berlin will send a field hospital to Ukraine in February, but rejects the delivery of arms.

"Weapons deliveries would not be helpful at the moment — that is the consensus in the federal government," Lambrecht told Die Welt.

Ukraine has requested that Germany provide 100,000 helmets and protective vests while also asking Berlin to rethink its position on arms deliveries.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told the Handelsblatt business newspaper on January 22 that Kyiv would "not rest in convincing the German government…to deliver defensive weapons to Ukraine."

In a separate development, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on January 22 summoned Germany’s ambassador regarding comments made by a German military leader that appeared to express empathy for Russian President Putin.

During an appearance in India on January 21, Vice Admiral and head of the German Navy Kay-Achim Schonbach said that what Putin "really wants is respect," adding that it would be "easy to give him the respect he really demands and probably also deserves."

Schonbach also said that "the Crimean Peninsula is gone. It will never come back [to Ukraine].

Schonbach apologized for his remarks, calling them a "clear mistake" in a tweet, before resigning on January 22.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has described the comments as "unacceptable."

Germany’s Defense Ministry distanced itself from Schonbach’s comments, saying they "in no way correspond to the position of the Defense Ministry."

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On January 22, a shipment of U.S. military aid, including unspecified lethal weapons, arrived in Kyiv.

The day before, NATO members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania announced that they would provide anti-armor and antiaircraft missiles to Ukraine in a weapons transfer approved by the United States.

Estonia is also seeking to provide Soviet-era howitzers that once belonged to East Germany to Ukraine, but the move would have to be approved by Berlin.

Britain earlier delivered light anti-tank weapons to Kyiv, and other NATO members are mulling provisions to Ukraine.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier this week described arms supplies to Ukraine as dangerous and said they "do nothing to reduce tensions."

Washington and its fellow NATO allies have held separate talks with Russia amid rising tensions over Ukraine.

But the respective sides have refused to budge on their positions, with Moscow demanding security guarantees including that NATO never admit Ukraine as a member, and the Western negotiators saying sovereign states have a right to choose who they ally with and calling on Russia to pull back its troops.

With reporting by dpa, Reuters, and AFP

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