Ukraine pledged not to attack Russia, the German defense minister told lawmakers, after confirming the delivery of howitzers
A batch of seven German 155-millimeter self-propelled PzH 2000 howitzers have arrived in Ukraine, the German defense minister confirmed to lawmakers on Wednesday. She said Kiev pledged not to attack targets in Russia with the German arms.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov “visited Brussels last week and took part in several meetings there,” Christine Lambrecht said during a report to the Bundestag. “It was important for him to make clear assurances that the weapons will only be used for defense and will not be used to attack Russian territory. He did.”
On Tuesday, Reznikov announced the delivery of the PzH 2000s to Ukraine. He personally thanked Lambrecht for the shipment and said German-trained Ukrainian troops “will bring the heat to the battlefield”.
The Ukrainian government gave similar pledges to other Western suppliers of heavy weapons, who are concerned that their use against targets in Russia could seriously escalate the conflict. Officials in Kiev indicated that they considered Crimea to be part of their country rather than Russia, and for that reason subject to possible attacks with Western arms.
The German defense minister told MPs that starting next week Ukrainian artillery specialists will begin training in the use of the German variant of the US-made M270 MLRS rocket system, the MARS II. Berlin will send three such launchers to Ukraine, down from the initial plan for four, she confirmed.
On Tuesday, Berlin released a breakdown of weapons and military equipment it pledged to send to Ukraine. Among the heavy weapons on the list are 54 M113 armored personnel carriers, 30 self-propelled anti-aircraft Gepard guns and a single IRIS-T SLM air-defense system.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.