The commitment to supply the Cheetah air defense systems was announced by Defense Secretary Christine Lambrecht during a meeting of international defense officials at the Ramstein US Air Force base in Germany on Tuesday.
“We decided yesterday that we will support Ukraine with anti-aircraft fire systems … which is exactly what Ukraine needs now to secure the airspace from the ground,” Lambrecht said during the meeting at the base.
This is important as it is the first time Germany has agreed to supply this type of heavy weapon to Ukraine as it fights the Russian invasion. The cheetah systems were phased out of active service in Germany in 2010.
Germany initially opposed calls for arms supplies to Kiev, agreeing only to provide humanitarian aid and medical equipment. That approach was in line with Germany’s decades-long policy of not supplying deadly weapons to the crisis zone.
A few months before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, the then new German government agreed to include the restrictive arms export policy in its coalition agreement.
He also announced that Germany would start pumping more money into its own armed forces.
Last week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that while “other partners are now supplying artillery” to Ukraine, Germany would “help with training and maintenance.”
She added that Germany had chosen not to publish all the weapons it had previously sent to Ukraine, but said: “We have supplied anti-tank weapons, Stingers [air defense systems] and many other weapons that we have not talked about in public, “the minister said.