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Mar 1, 2024, 4:14pm EST
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UK pushes Germany to send long-range missiles to Ukraine

Insights from Tagesspiegel, Welt, and the Financial Times

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A Ukrainian soldier prepares to fire a BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system towards Russian troops near a frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine in the Donetsk region on Feb. 4..
REUTERS/Alina Smutko
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The UK has privately urged Germany to provide long-range missiles to Ukraine – a move German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has rejected, saying it would involve Berlin too deeply in the war with Russia, Bloomberg reported.

The advanced Taurus missiles have a range of 310 miles, and would allow embattled Ukraine to continue its campaign of strikes deep behind Russian lines. While Kyiv has received similar weapons from France and the UK, both countries have limited stockpiles to draw from.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Scholz said that the missiles “if used incorrectly could reach a specific target somewhere in Moscow,” and that German troops would need to assist in selecting targets — an unacceptable level of involvement for Germany. “We have to make sure that we know where it will land,” he added.

Scholz irked British officials after appearing to divulge sensitive details of British and French troops assisting Ukraine in operating long-range weapons, saying that “what the British and French are doing in terms of target control and accompanying target control cannot be done in Germany.”

One British lawmaker called the comments “wrong, irresponsible and a slap in the face to allies” on Thursday.

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Long-range missiles key for Ukraine’s strike campaign

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Sources:  
Reuters, Tagesspiegel, War on the Rocks

Ukraine has been asking Germany for months to provide Taurus cruise missiles, which have a longer range than any of its existing arsenal and would allow Kyiv to strike deeper into Russian-occupied Crimea. “These missiles are capable of striking inaccessible locations of enemy aircraft, missile systems and ammunition depots,” Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said in an interview with Tagesspiegel. But while long-range strikes complicate life for Russian forces, they are “not a substitute for a major ground offensive” if Ukraine is again able to build up manpower and supplies to break through Russian defenses, three prominent military experts wrote in War on Rocks. Kyiv’s attempt to break through Russian defense lines last summer ended in failure, but the three security experts argued that Kyiv could be ready to mount a new offensive next year if given enough Western assistance.

European allies squabble over missiles, ammunition, and boots on the ground

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Sources:  
Financial Times, Politico, Welt

As well as the spat over missiles, European partners have argued over how to supply Ukraine with ammunition and whether to rule out putting boots on the ground in the warzone. France has demanded that EU funds only be spent to reimburse purchases of ammunition and weapons for Ukraine from within the European Economic Area, maintaining that EU defense funds should help foster Europe’s military industry, the Financial Times reported. By contrast, Italy, Poland, and Finland have argued that the EU needs to look beyond Europe’s borders for military supplies because EU producers cannot meet Ukraine’s demands, the FT said.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said “nothing should be ruled out” regarding the possibility of sending Western troops to Ukraine, forcing Western leaders to address an issue that previously has been largely in the background. The notion was quickly disavowed by leaders from the U.S., Germany, and other NATO countries. “Macron’s ‘troops’ stunt was about portraying him as a staunch defender of Kyiv and distracting from the money,” one EU diplomat told the FT. “It has infuriated the Germans.”

“If Germany and France present themselves with bickering and disagreement in the eyes of the Russians, where will the champagne corks pop? Not in Washington and not in Italy, but in Moscow,” a former German diplomat told the German news outlet Welt.

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