No bragging about arms aid: government quarrels with its share of Ukraine's successes

The Bundeswehr and German arms exports have a share in Ukraine's military successes that should not be underestimated - actually.

No bragging about arms aid: government quarrels with its share of Ukraine's successes

The Bundeswehr and German arms exports have a share in Ukraine's military successes that should not be underestimated - actually. Because the Bundeswehr and the government noticeably hold back pictures and information on these services. That raises questions, even if the Bundeswehr is becoming more outspoken.

"Do good and talk about it," is a saying from advertising, even though the Bible actually teaches the opposite. In this sense, the Federal Government and the Bundeswehr behave in a Christian manner. Rarely have the German military and armaments industry been so clearly on the right side of an armed conflict as in supporting the Ukrainian armed forces in the war against the Russian invaders. But the Bundeswehr, which otherwise stages every practice filling a sandbag on its various channels, is holding back with pictures of its Ukraine engagement.

The training of Ukrainian army personnel, the transport of ammunition and heavy Bundeswehr equipment to the Ukrainian border or its maintenance, the successful use of the Iris-T air defense system against missiles flying in Kyiv or the German Gepard tanks in the offensives in Donbass: none of this is disseminated Federal Government and Bundeswehr in picture and video recordings. Nine months after the historic decision that Germany should deliver arms to a war zone, the traffic light only reluctantly answered the question about the usefulness of these deliveries. Scholz, Lambrecht and Co. would rather be accused of Germany doing too little for the country under attack. Why actually?

The Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) cannot understand the question. "We always want to provide transparent information, even beyond the Bundeswehr," said a ministry spokesman when asked by But: "We have to pay attention to operational security and we have to pay attention to military security as a matter of principle. We weigh that carefully against each other."

The BMVg spokesman sees no contradiction in the fact that the Ukrainian armed forces distribute images and information on military successes with a time delay, so that no sensitive information becomes public: "We are very happy when certain things are reported by the Ukrainian side, and some of them are are not reported either. Which parts are safe for the people who are fighting on the ground, that can best be decided by Ukraine itself." But does that really explain why Berlin has so far not acknowledged Germany's contribution to Ukraine's military successes? Especially since training achievements in Germany or the hitherto apparently successful logistics in the relocation of heavy Bundeswehr equipment such as tank transporters or bridge-laying armored vehicles could also be shown without individual risks.

The Iris-T air defense system plays a key role in the fact that many Russian missiles are still being intercepted over Kiev airspace. It is reasonable to assume that the Russian military planners, knowing about the efficiency of the Western defense system, are not primarily directing their rocket attacks against the capital. Images of suspected rocket launches by Iris-T can be found on social media. But verified images that Olaf Scholz and his government could proudly refer to are not distributed by government agencies or the Bundeswehr. Interception quotas - the Norwegian NASAMS, for example, is said to have destroyed 100 percent of all targeted Russian missiles - are not mentioned.

The location of the system would not have to be shown for such information and images. Other considerations are therefore obvious, such as the Russian perspective on Germany. The NATO countries in general and the federal government in particular are trying not to appear like warring factions. The effort is mutual: after the missile debris hit Poland, the Kremlin immediately tried to clarify that Russia had not launched an attack on NATO territory. But, of course, Moscow is well aware of the role German and other Western weapons play in Ukraine's military successes. So what is there to reveal?

The CDU MP Roderich Kiesewetter suspects other motives behind the communicative reluctance of the government and the Bundeswehr, in addition to security considerations. "The communication line is managed centrally and closely from Berlin," says the defense politician. "Chancellor Scholz and Defense Minister Lambrecht obviously do not want a more offensive presentation of the German contributions." The SPD is still struggling in parts with the military support of Ukraine. And: "Perhaps a certain embarrassment also plays a role," suspects Kieswetter. After all, the USA provided 20 times as much as Germany and even the small countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania provided significantly more than Germany in terms of GDP.

The Greens politician Anton Hofreiter suspects something similar. "It's good that the SPD has moved on the issue of arms deliveries. The Gepard tanks, for example, are not just defensive weapons. They made a significant contribution to the success of the Kharkiv offensive because the Russians didn't use their air force against the advancing Ukrainians could deploy without possibly being targeted by the Cheetah tanks," says the chairman of the European Committee in the Bundestag.

"Germany is the only country to have supplied Western tanks, which is very well recognized in Ukraine. In addition, Iris-T played a major role in the fact that most of the missiles fired at Kyiv could be intercepted," reports Hofreiter after he was in the last week was in Kyiv and military representatives spoke there. "So the federal government does not need to hide. The fact that it is doing so leads to unnecessary problems in communication, not least with its own allies." There were repeated irritations, especially with the Eastern European allies, because Germany's military engagement there was perceived as being too cautious.

As early as spring, the federal government was only able to bring itself to publish details of specific support services with difficulty. It was repeatedly speculated that the government was also taking into account the sensitivities of the ranks of the Social Democrats. It wasn't just the grassroots who struggled with the idea that an SPD-led government was actively involved, albeit indirectly, in killing Russian soldiers. Prominent party voices such as parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich or Ralf Stegner still feel that the military response to Russia's war of aggression was overemphasized, while diplomatic efforts fell short.

Nevertheless, public relations has gradually changed, presumably also under pressure from the Greens, FDP and Union. The Federal Press Office regularly updates its list of German arms deliveries, which also includes planned deliveries.

And something else is new: In the video and podcast format "Demanded", in which the Bundeswehr has been analyzing the course of the war week by week since March and talking about its own equipment situation, information on Bundeswehr participation is being dealt with more and more openly. In the most recent episode, Brigadier General Christian Freuding reports: "In the last few weeks of October we had all the instructors from the Ukrainian explosive ordnance clearance school here in Germany at the explosive ordnance defense school in Stetten am Kalten Markt." It is also about the ability of the Ukrainians to continue their offensives against the occupying forces.

Beginning in the 24th minute of this must-see issue, Freuding explains the four pillars of German supplies of material, including "our 30 cheetahs, which are proving extremely well in the Ukraine." So much so that the Bundeswehr wants to set up a small maintenance center on the Slovakian-Ukrainian border to keep the Gepard and Panzerhaubitzen 2000 operational or to repair them. Germany is thus closely involved in the Ukrainian war effort. The federal government prefers not to show that.

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