Before Saturday’s turnaround, senior Ukrainian officials had been complaining bitterly for weeks about Germany’s refusal to allow arms shipments to bolster Ukraine’s defenses.
Estonia, in particular, had said it wanted to send old howitzers but was prevented from doing so because Germany was withholding its approval. Estonia bought the weapons from Finland, which gave its sign-off, but Germany also has to OK the transfer because it originally sold the howitzers to Finland.
At the time, Ukrainian and some officials from EU countries expressed outrage. And in response, Germany said it was sending 5,000 helmets and a field hospital to Ukraine, a meager contribution that has been the subject of some derision considering that Germany is the biggest and wealthiest EU country.
But the dispute over the howitzers erupted nearly a month ago, and now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has undertaken a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the need to supply Kyiv with arms and ammunition is urgent. Russian tanks have advanced on the Ukrainian capital, which is also under fire from Russian missiles. Paratroopers and other Russian forces are trying to infiltrate the city, and local officials have warned residents that fighting is underway on the streets. Many have taken refuge in subway stations.
Germany’s resistance lingered even as other European countries, the U.S. and NATO started mobilizing in recent days to send military equipment and weapons to Ukraine.
Poland started sending ammunition by land, while Estonia and Latvia on Friday said they were beginning to truck fuel, Javelin anti-armor weapons and medical supplies to the Ukraine border for hand-off to Ukrainian forces. Elsewhere, the Czech Republic said it would send guns and ammunition, and Slovakia said it would send ammunition, diesel and kerosene.
On Saturday, more countries started chipping in.
The Netherlands said it will send 200 Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems to Ukraine — often the top-requested type of military aid among Ukrainian soldiers and officials (apart from Western powers sending their own planes and forces to fight with Ukraine). And Belgium announced it would supply Ukraine with 2,000 machine guns and 3,800 tonnes of fuel.
— David M. Herszenhorn, Lili Bayer and Hans Von Der Burchard in Germany OKs weapons for Ukraine in major shift on military aid