Since late 2021, Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border, sparking fears of an invasion by Moscow. While NATO allies, including the UK and US, have sent weapons and troops to Kiev, Germany has refused to export weapons.
On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended the decision not to provide weapons to be used against Russia for the first time since the Second World War.
Meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin on Tuesday, the leaders backed diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Mr Scholz said: “We have done a great deal to actively support economic development and democratic development in Ukraine.”
On principle, Berlin claims to almost never export weaponry to active conflict zones, with Mr Scholz saying it was rooted “in the whole development of the past years and decades”.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor of The Daily Telegraph, wrote in the outlet European countries not exporting weapons to Ukraine was an “unforgivable failure”.
He said: “The German elites have signalled by their actions and body language that there will be no serious consequences, whatever Mr Putin does with his Blitzkrieg forces and armoured divisions on Ukraine’s border.
“The rest of core Europe is going along with what can only be described as a diplomatic travesty. Brussels has been briefing journalists that invasion talk is breathless Anglo-Saxon chatter.
“The European Commission has pointedly taken the decision not to withdraw embassy staff from Kiev, the tell-tale behaviour of a power that considers itself neutral.
“France’s Emmanuel Macron has chosen this moment to call for a new strategic partnership between the EU and Russia, separate from the Americans, to the consternation of those EU states on the front line that depend on America for their national survival.”
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In scathing remarks against Germany, Mr Evans-Pritchard then said Berlin would not intervene due to its economic interests with Moscow.
He wrote: “In short, Germany will not take any step that threatens its special relationship with Moscow or jeopardises its long-term economic interests.
“It is conceding the Kremlin an imperial droit de regard over its near abroad.
“Moreover, it is doing so even though Mr Putin is demanding a buffer zone of emasculated neutral states across a swath of the EU itself, including Finland and Sweden as well as the old Warsaw Pact states and the Balkans.”
Earlier in January, Germany blocked Estonia from exporting German-origin weapons to be exported to Kiev.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, a German government spokesman said the impasse results from a longstanding policy regarding arms exports to tense regions.
He said: “The principle governing arms exports is always the same — whether they come directly from Germany or from third countries — and no permission has been issued at this stage.
“It is not possible to estimate the outcome of the process at this moment.”
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted Germany’s reliance on Russian gas could make the country reluctant to impose sanctions.
He said in a statement to MPs: “I think the house needs to understand that one of the big issues that we all face in dealing with Ukraine, in dealing with Russia, is the heavy dependence of our European friends in particular on Russian gas.
“It was clear in the conversations last night that, in this era of high gas prices, we are bumping up against that reality.
“So the job of our diplomacy now is to persuade and encourage our friends to go as far as they can to sort this out and to come up with a tough package of economic sanctions because that is what this situation requires.”