Lawmakers from both of Germany’s ruling parties have criticized a Defense Ministry decision not to supply NATO ally Lithuania with armored fighting vehicles.
“We have a great interest in increasing the capability of our NATO partners in the Baltic,” the Social Democrats’ Rainer Arnold told Die Welt newspaper.
Florian Hahn, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, told the same newspaper the Baltic states’ security concerns were fully justified in view of the situation in Ukraine. Russia occupied and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from the former Soviet republic last year and has since supported a separatist uprising in the southeastern Donbas region there.
“In this position, we are required to support our NATO and EU partners as much as possible,” said Hahn. “That is also the case for procurement plans like this one for the Boxer transport tank.”
Lithuania had asked to buy several dozen Boxer armored fighting vehicles which are operated by the armed forces of Germany and the Netherlands.
According to Die Welt, the German government turned down the request because it didn’t believe it could afford to do away with any Boxers in light of its own plans.
Last month, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen announced a modernization of the army after the parliamentary ombudsman for Bundeswehr personnel, Hellmut Königshaus, had warned that the forces were stretched to their limits.
Lithuania, a former Soviet republic like Ukraine, has been among Russia’s staunchest critics since it launched its stealth invasion of Ukraine. Last year, it agreed to form a joint military brigade with neighboring Poland and to share intelligence and widen cross-border air force training with Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Russian warplanes have regularly menaced Baltic airspace, prompting NATO to deploy F-16 fighter jets to the region for patrols.