Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced the commitment to deliver the Gibbard anti-aircraft systems during a meeting of international defense officials at the U.S. Air Force Base in Ramstein in Germany on Tuesday.
“We decided yesterday that we will support Ukraine with anti-aircraft systems … which is exactly what Ukraine needs now to secure the airspace from the ground,” Lambrecht said during the meeting at the base.
This is significant because it is the first time that Germany has agreed to provide this type of heavy weaponry to Ukraine while fighting a Russian invasion. Gepard systems were phased out from active duty in Germany in 2010.
Germany initially resisted calls to supply Kyiv with weapons, agreeing only to provide humanitarian assistance and medical equipment. This approach was in keeping with Germany’s decades-old policy of not supplying the crisis region with lethal weapons.
A few months before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, the then new German government agreed to include a policy of arms export restriction in its coalition agreement.
He also announced that Germany would start pumping more money into its armed forces.
Just last week, German Foreign Minister Annallina Barbock said that while “other partners are now providing artillery” to Ukraine, Germany will “help with training and maintenance.”
She added that Germany chose not to disclose all the weapons it had previously sent to Ukraine, but said: “We have supplied Stingers anti-tank weapons. [air defense systems] And many other weapons that we haven’t talked about publicly.”