Support for Ukraine: Ramstein Group discusses military aid


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Status: 04/21/2023 08:36 a.m

The Ukraine Contact Group is today discussing further military aid at the US air base in Ramstein. It should also be about air defense. However, Ukraine should not expect a fighter jet commitment from Germany.

By Kai Clement, ARD Capital Studio

Defense ministers from 54 countries last met in Ramstein at the end of January. The expectations at the time were enormous: will Germany announce at the American air base what many have been waiting for so long? So the supply of Leopard main battle tanks?

More speed in the Department of Defense

But then Defense Minister Boris Pistorius had pretty much nothing to say. “That’s why this morning I gave my house the order to carry out an examination of the stocks of Leopard tanks of the various types,” said the SPD politician at the time.

A test order. The criticism from all advocates of arms deliveries was correspondingly great. The head of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), spoke of Germany’s failure. Shortly thereafter came the promise to deliver tanks.

It must have been a memorable start to office for Pistorius. He had been sworn in just the day before. Since then, he has shown a very different pace of decision-making. Most recently, for example, permission was granted for Poland to use German “Mig-29“- may pass on combat aircraft to Ukraine – on the same day as the request.

Germany is not a driver of military aid

When US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin greets his colleagues again today, the Ukraine contact group made up of NATO countries and numerous other allies has been in existence for a year.

“In the end, a lot has been achieved,” says Anton Hofreiter, who heads the Bundestag’s Europe Committee. “Ukraine was only able to withstand the massive attacks by Russia thanks to the strong support, especially from the nations of the Ramstein Contact Group and in particular from the USA,” said the Green politician. At the same time, many things should have been delivered more quickly, says Hofreiter.

From the perspective of CDU politician Roderich Kiesewetter, Germany is not one of the drivers of military support. From his point of view, the double effect of Ramstein is all the more important: the strength of the USA and a corresponding pressure on Germany to participate. “It was a very wise decision by the Americans to choose the Ramstein format in Germany,” said Kiesewetter.

No fighter jet delivery expected from Germany

The Green politician Hofreiter and Kiesewetter from the CDU are among the pacesetters when it comes to arms deliveries. But even they didn’t expect that today it could be about German commitments for combat aircraft, says Kiesewetter. “That would be irrelevant for Germany. Because Germany is not willing to deliver outdated Tornados from its own stocks or even Eurofighters that nobody is trained to use,” said the CDU politician.

Countries like the Netherlands or Great Britain could come into play here: With the offer of “F-16” fighter aircraft of American design. Or the USA itself, which has recently been rather cautious on this topic.

Germany supports with air defense systems

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is likely to emphasize today what Germany is already contributing to air defense. The second “Iris-T” system arrived in the Ukraine this week – an air defense system that Germany itself does not yet have. Also what has been promised for a long time “Patriot”-Flugabwehrsystem was delivered this week. Ukraine is also promoting longer-range missiles.

For Hofreiter, however, something else is currently a priority: “The most urgent thing would be that Ukraine be provided with sufficient ammunition,” said the Green politician. Without new procurement initiatives and commitments for the armaments industry, according to his forecast, this will not be possible.

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