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Federal government remains silent on Ukraine’s howitzer purchase

AThe 100 self-propelled howitzers 2000 that the Ukrainian government will order from the German-French manufacturer KNDS are not yet listed on the daily updated list of “military support services for the Ukraine”, which the federal government publishes on the Internet.

From this it can be concluded that this armaments project, with a volume of around 1.7 billion euros, is not part of the military “upgrading initiative” in which the Federal Government has so far combined its financial and material military aid for Ukraine. Rather, the 100 howitzers, the production of which is expected to begin immediately but will probably continue into the year after next, will probably have to be financed by Kyiv in other ways.

The Federal Security Council meets in secret

The federal government’s list, on the other hand, includes 30 used “Gepard” anti-aircraft tanks from the same manufacturer, five of which are listed under the heading “delivered” and 25 under the heading “preparation/implementation”. However, all deliveries are subject to a multi-stage approval process based on the provisions of the War Weapons Control Act and the Foreign Trade Act.

The central role in this procedure falls to the Federal Security Council; a cabinet committee consisting of the chancellor and chancellor’s office and the ministers of defence, interior, foreign affairs, justice, finance, economics and development aid.

The Federal Security Council decides on so-called preliminary inquiries (foreign governments want to place orders with domestic armaments companies) and later on the manufacture and export of war weapons. It meets in secret, and its approvals are published in anonymous summary reports. At the urging of the SPD and the Greens in particular, these reporting requirements have been tightened in recent years. Reports now take place every six months, and immediately in the case of significant armaments deals.

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This obviously does not apply to preliminary inquiries, which is why the approval of the Ukrainian howitzer order has not yet been notified to the Bundestag. These preliminary inquiries had already been exempted from the publication obligation in 2013 in a coalition compromise between the Union and the SPD, which was negotiated by the then Ministers de Maizière and Steinmeier. The government’s silence on the howitzer business shows that this regulation is still valid.

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