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Changing course, German lawmakers vote to send heavy weapons to Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen install a machine gun on a tank during the repair works after fighting against Russian forces in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on April 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian servicemen install a machine gun on a tank during the repair works after fighting against Russian forces in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on April 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

BERLIN — German lawmakers vote in favor of sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, a symbolic decision that reflects the government’s change of course on the issue.

Germany had initially refused to send any offensive weapons to Ukraine and later balked at sending heavy equipment such as armored vehicles.

Under pressure domestically and from allies, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government agreed recently to let Ukraine purchase German armaments and support weapons swaps with allies who in turn are sending heavy gear to Ukraine.

Germany has already sent about 2,500 anti-aircraft missiles, 900 bazookas, and millions of rounds of ammunition, hand grenades and mines to Ukraine, the dpa news agency reported. It now plans to give armored vehicles to Slovenia to replace Soviet-era tanks the country is sending to Ukraine, send mortars directly to Ukraine, and let Kyiv purchase mothballed self-propelled armored anti-aircraft guns from Germany.

German companies have also asked to send 88 Leopard tanks, 100 Marder armored vehicles and 100 howitzers to Ukraine, permission for which has yet to be granted.

Today’s non-binding motion — with 586 lawmakers in favor, 100 against and seven abstentions — receives support from governing parties and the main opposition Union bloc of ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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