BERLIN — Germany will send 50 “Dingo” armored vehicles to Ukraine, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced Thursday, marking another U-turn in the Berlin government’s stance on military support for Kyiv, just days after saying such a move was impossible.
“It is encouraging to see the successes that Ukraine has been able to achieve, especially in recent days, also with the help of German weapons,” Lambrecht said at a yearly conference of Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, in Berlin.
Besides the delivery of the 50 Dingos, the minister also said Berlin would send two additional so-called Mars multiple rocket launchers, on top of the three Germany previously sent.
The announcement comes as the German government has faced mounting criticism from Ukraine, the U.S. as well as domestic politicians in recent days for not stepping up its weapon deliveries. Since the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has repeatedly insisted that it could not supply different types of military aid, before ultimately reversing course amid strong domestic and international pressure.
The Dingo is an armored vehicle that Germany used, for example, during its military mission in Afghanistan to ensure the safe transport of troops. Crucially, it is not a battle tank, like the Leopard, or an infantry fighting vehicle, like the Marder — both heavier armory that, according to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Berlin would only send to Ukraine if other allies also agree to deliver such Western tanks.
“There will be no German unilateral action,” Scholz has repeatedly said, most recently on Wednesday evening.
However, Thursday’s decision to supply the Dingos raises questions about the credibility of the German government’s arguments because Lambrecht had just days earlier insisted that, for various reasons, it would be impossible to send such armored vehicles to Ukraine.
In an interview with POLITICO on Friday, the defense minister — when asked why she had not yet sent Dingos or similar armored vehicles to Ukraine, as France has already done — argued she could not spare a single vehicle because they were needed to maintain Germany’s own national defense as well as its military engagement in Mali.
Lambrecht had also blamed the frugal defense budget policies of previous governments, arguing that many of the vehicles her military possesses on paper are not operational in reality.
“I would very much like to be able to give significantly more to Ukraine,” she said in the interview Friday.
On Monday, as Berlin faced fresh calls for more weapons amid Ukraine’s swift battlefield advances against Russia, Lambrecht said she had assessed once more over the weekend whether her military could deliver more support to Ukraine, but concluded it could not be done.
In her announcement on Thursday, Lambrecht also said Germany would soon be able to enact a tank swap deal with Greece, under which Athens would send 40 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine and receive 40 German Marders in return.