Germany’s Bundestag votes against Taurus missiles to Ukraine – DW – 02/22/2024

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Skip next section Bundestag votes for delivering ‘long-range weapons’ to Ukraine

February 22, 2024

Bundestag votes for delivering ‘long-range weapons’ to Ukraine

The German parliament has voted in favor of a motion put forward by the country’s ruling coalition, which called for providing “additional, necessary long-range weapons systems and ammunition” to Ukraine.

The measure, however, did not explicitly mention the delivery of the Taurus cruise missile system to Kyiv.

While 382 lawmakers voted for the motion, 284 rejected it and 2 abstained.

There are differences in views among the parties of the ruling coalition as to whether the wording also allows for the delivery of Taurus missiles.

While politicians from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and environmentalist Greens say that it does, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) rejects this interpretation.

The vote was held after parliamentarians earlier in the day rejected another, competing motion presented by the opposition center-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) bloc, in which they explicitly urged for the supply of the Taurus cruise missile system to Kyiv.

Highlighting divisions within Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition, the FDP head of the Bundestag Defense Committee Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann voted for the opposition motion.

Germany’s Scholz noncommittal on Taurus missiles for Ukraine

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Skip next section Bundestag votes against sending Taurus to Ukraine

February 22, 2024

Bundestag votes against sending Taurus to Ukraine

A majority of German lawmakers voted against an opposition motion to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine.

The motion was put forward by the center-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) bloc.  

Only 182 parliamentarians voted in favor of it, while 480 were against. There were 5 abstentions.

In the run up to the vote, opposition leader Friedrich Merz had urged members of the ruling coalition to support the motion.

The ruling alliance, for their part, are putting forward their own joint motion calling for the delivery of “additional, necessary long-range weapons systems and ammunition” to Ukraine, without explicitly mentioning Taurus.

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Skip next section Defense minister avoids mentioning Taurus in Bundestag speech

February 22, 2024

Defense minister avoids mentioning Taurus in Bundestag speech

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius addressed lawmakers during the parliamentary debate on Ukraine support.

He said Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine is not just about Ukrainian sovereignty but that it will also shape the future of Germany and Europe.   

Pistorius stressed the need to boost defense spending in the long run and ensure that the German military is prepared and well-equipped to fight and deter national security threats.

Will Germany spend more on its military long term?

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But the minister, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), avoided mentioning the Taurus cruise missile system in his address.

When an opposition lawmaker questioned if the government’s draft motion — which calls for supplying “additionally required long-range weapon systems” — also includes Taurus, Pistorius said he “can’t answer” that question as he was not a member of the parliamentary group that drafted it.   

There are differences in views among the parties of the ruling coalition as to whether the wording also allows for the delivery of the Taurus, with politicians from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and environmentalist Greens saying that it does but the SPD rejecting this interpretation.

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Skip next section Conservative opposition leader Merz demands Taurus delivery

February 22, 2024

Conservative opposition leader Merz demands Taurus delivery

Friedrich Merz, the leader of the opposition center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, pressed Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government to do everything possible to support Ukraine’s defense.

“Ukraine is still not receiving all the material it urgently needs to effectively fend off the Russian war of aggression,” he said in the Bundestag.

Merz also called on members of the ruling coalition to support the opposition’s motion and demand the government “to finally deliver the Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine.”

In addition, the opposition leader criticized the government for the slow pace of turning around the German military, which Scholz promised in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The turnaround has largely remained just words, but so far it has not been enough for comprehensive action,” Merz said.

He called for the creation of a National Security Council in the Chancellery to increase Germany’s ability to face growing geopolitical and security threats.

Friedrich Merz: Germany could spend €80 billion on defense

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Skip next section Expert to DW: Taurus ‘different’ from UK’s Storm Shadow, France’s SCALP

February 22, 2024

Expert to DW: Taurus ‘different’ from UK’s Storm Shadow, France’s SCALP

While Germany has been debating the delivery of Taurus missiles for months, the UK and France have already supplied Ukraine with similar weapon systems — the British Storm Shadow platform, and its almost identical French counterpart SCALP.

Both Storm Shadow and SCALP missiles have a range of over 250 kilometers.

Taurus, however, can hit targets up to 500 kilometers away with great precision.  

Thomas Wiegold, a journalist and security expert, told DW that the Taurus and Storm Shadow systems are “pretty similar, but still different.”

“Taurus has a much longer range and is much more resistant against GPS jamming and spoofing,” he explained, pointing out that this means it increases the chances for Ukraine to reach strategically significant goals like destroying the Kerch bridge, which links Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been reluctant to supply the weapon system to Kyiv despite pressure from both opposition parties as well as members of his own coalition.

Given Taurus’ long range, Wiegold said there are fears that the missiles “might reach Russia proper, and that’s something the chancellor urgently wants to avoid.”

How the Ukraine war became Germany’s watershed moment

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Skip next section What have Ukrainian leaders said about possible German Taurus deliveries?

February 22, 2024

What have Ukrainian leaders said about possible German Taurus deliveries?

Ukrainian leaders have been urging Germany and other international partners to provide Kyiv with weapons and air defense systems, in particular long-range weapons. 

On Thursday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said it is now time for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to finally send Taurus missiles to Ukraine. 

Klitschko said “one of the most important questions” for his country was whether Germany would supply the requested cruise missiles, the German DPA news agency reported. 

Cruise missiles dominate Germany-Ukraine talks

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“We are defending our country. And that’s why we need Taurus. We can use it to destroy the Russians’ military logistics,” he said.

Klitschko said he ultimately expects a positive decision from the German government.

“Germany has finally woken up and is helping us a lot,” Klitschko said of Scholz’s early reticence to send other powerful weapons to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said last month that Kyiv was in talks with Berlin over the supply of the weapons. 

He stressed that Ukraine was seeking the advanced missiles to strike Russian military infrastructure on occupied Ukrainian territory, not to hit targets in Russia.

“We don’t need a Taurus to attack Moscow,” Kuleba emphasized in an interview with the news outlets Bild, Welt.tv and Politico.

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Skip next section What are the reasons for the debate?

February 22, 2024

What are the reasons for the debate?

As the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine looms, and following a stalled Ukrainian counteroffensive, German lawmakers are piling pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to do more to help Ukraine defend itself.

One of the most prominent measures being floated by politicians in Berlin is the delivery of high-precision Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. The missiles are capable of hitting targets up to 500 kilometers (310 miles) in distance.  

Germany’s Scholz noncommittal on Taurus missiles for Ukraine

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Scholz is reluctant to provide the weapons to Ukraine, amid fears of escalation. 

Scholz’s coalition currently consists of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), business-focused Free Democratic Party (FDP), and environmentalist Greens.

On Thursday, parliamentary groups belonging to the coalition seek to introduce a joint motion calling for the delivery of “additional, necessary long-range weapons systems and ammunition” to Ukraine. The coalition draft, however, does not explicitly mention the delivery of Taurus weapons to Ukraine.

The center-right opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Conservative Social Union (CSU) are also putting forward a motion to the Bundestag on Thursday, which explicitly calls for the delivery of Taurus missiles to Ukraine. 

One prominent member belonging to a party in the ruling government, FDP parliamentarian and chair of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, has expressed support for the CDU/CSU Taurus motion.

sri/wd (AFP, dpa) 

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