Germany is allegedly delaying the shipment of high-precision long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine due to fears of Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other officials that this will require German technical specialists to work in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reports. Some German officials fear that this could bring Berlin closer to a direct confrontation with Russia, the newspaper writes, citing sources among German officials.
"German officials said Germany's three-party coalition government had approved in principle the supply of the Taurus, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz had put the brakes on the move due to concerns that German personnel would have to come to Ukraine to help maintain and operate the complex weapon," WSJ says.
According to the sources, Scholz believes that moving German military personnel into the war zone will require a parliamentary vote.
Also, Scholz is worried that such a move can allegedly "draw Germany deeper into the conflict", probably causing "a direct confrontation with Russia", the publication's sources noted.
"The chancellor must stop blocking the delivery of the Taurus. The hesitation and technical excuses only serve to strengthen Vladimir Putin's belief that he can still win, and this only prolongs the war," said Anton Hofreiter, a senior lawmaker from the Green Party, which is part of the ruling coalition.
The chancellor's spokesman said that there is no plan for the immediate supply of Taurus missiles, WSJ writes.
"Similar debate preceded Germany's decision to send German-made tanks to Ukraine. Scholz agreed to do so only after persuading President Joe Biden to send American tanks. In accordance with what Scholz called the principle of a 'strategic move,' Germany has since insisted on supplying new types of weapons only if the United States also does so," the newspaper reports.
Some German officials say the transfer of Taurus missiles could still be approved when the United States sends similar weapons to Ukraine. On September 22, the NBC TV channel reported that the US president had allegedly promised to provide Ukraine with ATACMS long-range artillery missiles, but a clear date was not announced.
In addition to the caveat about deploying technicians to help operate the Taurus, Scholz's office is also said to be concerned about whether these missiles will strike Russian territory, the WSJ notes.
"At first, officials of the Chancellery were concerned about the use of missiles to strike on Russian territory. They were also concerned that [the missiles] could hit the Kerch bridge, which would lead to further escalation of the conflict," the outlet writes.
In an attempt to reassure Berlin, senior British officials said they had "briefed their German counterparts in detail" on how they were working with Ukraine on its own Storm Shadow missiles, including disclosing "highly confidential operational procedures," according to the newspaper.
"Ukraine has never carried out strikes [with Storm Shadow – ed.] on targets that the British did not approve, these officials told their German counterparts, assuring them that they could rely on Kyiv to honor any targeting agreement," writes WSJ.
According to German officials, if the Taurus transfer is approved, the missile's range will be shortened to "minimize the risk of its use to strike Russia."
The publication notes that it is not clear whether Germany will "allow" Ukraine to strike targets in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
According to the German Ministry of Defense, Kyiv requested the supply of Taurus cruise missiles as early as April 26, 2023. However, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has repeatedly rejected such a possibility.
On August 7, Ukrainian MP Yehor Chernev said that the Bundestag allegedly reached an agreement on the transfer of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine.
On August 14, Ukraine's ambassador to Germany, Oleksiy Makieiev, spoke out against limiting the range of Taurus missiles in case they are provided to the Defense Forces.
On September 14, the German Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, said that he was "annoyed" by constant calls to hand over Taurus missiles to Ukraine.
On September 15, Pistorius announced that the decision on the supply of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine may take about one to two weeks.
On September 21, he said that he was not denying Ukraine long-range Taurus missiles, but that "all the necessary procedures" had not yet been completed to approve the decision.
The German news agency Bild stated that it will take the Ukrainian Armed Forces approximately three months to master the Taurus missiles.