Paris: In a boost to Ukraine’s military in the ongoing Ukraine-Russian conflict, Germany will provide Ukraine with an additional four IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defence systems as part of a military aid package worth more than €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion), the German Defence Ministry said in a statement adding that these would be supplied from 2025.
The package also includes drones and drone-defence systems, demining vehicles, satellite communications, electronic warfare equipment, directional anti-tank mines and artillery shells, aimed at addressing acute needs of the Ukrainian armed forces, according to the ministry.
Germany has become the biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine behind the US, after initial reluctance to provide arms. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius earlier this month confirmed plans to boost the country’s military support for Ukraine, in response to media reports that the government is seeking to double the aid to €8 billion in 2024.
IRIS-T systems and a second Patriot tracking radar handed over in October will reach Ukraine this year, once Ukrainian personnel have completed their training, the ministry said.
German Defence Minister Pistorius announced the support on November 22 in a video conference with the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, the 17th meeting in the so-called Ramstein format, and said Germany will stand with Ukraine “now and for the long term,” according to the ministry.
In addition to short-term aid, the contact group discussed the long-term capability development of the Ukrainian armed forces. Germany and France will lead a “capability coalition,” bringing together more than 20 countries to establish the Capability Coalition Ground Based Air Defence, the ministry said.
Germany will also support other future capability coalitions, and further steps would be discussed at the next meeting on this topic, expected to take place in Berlin in December. The German government stands ready to make a “significant contribution” to modernizing and upgrading the Ukrainian armed forces, according to the statement.
“The Ukrainian armed forces must be made so strong that they can defeat Russian aggression today and deter any attempt at a further attack tomorrow,’’ the ministry said.
Pistorius pointed out during the support meeting that Germany has made an “enormous contribution” since the start of the war, with Ukraine “massively strengthened” in the area of air defence through the delivery of Patriot and IRIS-T systems, as well as almost 50 Gepard anti-aircraft guns.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in September urged allies to “dig deep” and provide more air defence systems for Ukraine, to help the country fend of barrages of Russian missiles.