VILNIUS - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, currently in Lithuania, has rejected criticism over the delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine.
"Germany is one of the key military supporters of Ukraine, with probably only the United States providing more support, but Germany is certainly providing a lot of assistance to Ukraine as we are providing large quantities of ammunition, armored systems, and the most sophisticated howitzers are set to be delivered to Ukraine", the German chancellor told a press conference in Vilnius, adding that Ukrainian troops are currently being trained in Germany on how to use these weapons.
"We often see reports that are completely untrue, stating that the Ukrainians do not want some weapons (...). In fact, we are supporting Ukraine very actively, and we have the so-called arms exchanges that have been agreed with, for example, the Czech Republic, Greece, other countries, and the Ukrainians will certainly be able to use these weapons," Scholz assured.
"My decision for Germany to supply arms during the conflict, it's a decision that we are implementing on a large scale", he added.
Having long delayed sending arms to Ukraine, Germany is now facing pressure to provide heavy weapons to Kyiv. So far, Berlin has not been sending them directly but has been asking other countries to do so, pledging to compensate their losses.
Last week, Scholz said he had agreed with Greece that Athens would send Soviet-era military equipment to Ukraine in exchange for more modern weapons from Berlin. Germany has already signed a similar agreement with the Czech Republic.
Berlin has also promised second-hand self-propelled howitzers and self-propelled anti-aircraft systems Gepard, and they are due to arrive in Ukraine in July. However, Kyiv expects more from Germany and wants it to directly send Leopard tanks and Marder IFVs.