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Little progress made modernising Budeswehr since Feb. 24: German general

Ukraine hopes to receive more heavy weapons from Germany, but these hopes may be dashed by the recent assessment of the state of the German Inspector of the Army, who said that the Bundeswehr will need to replenish its stocks, something he assesses will take years.

“The current state of materiel readiness of the army is no greater than on February 24,” Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, the Inspector of the Army, told “Süddeutsche Zeitung” in an interview published on Friday.

As he pointed out, eight months before, when Russia invaded Ukraine, he warned that the Bundeswehr’s stocks are “more or less empty”. General Mais said that little progress in modernising the 60,000-strong German armed forces has been made since then, although he did admit that the matters of security are now discussed “more objectively and in-depth”.

However, when it comes to the overall defensive capabilities of Germany, little has changed.

“We have transferred materiel from our stocks to Ukraine. In the situation that emerged it is a completely understandable political decision,” said Gen. Mais. “But replacing that material will require time. That means we have less of it than before the war started.”

As for the additional EUR 100 bn that Bundeswehr received, he said that while much needed, “it will take years for it to make a change in the military as a whole”.

For years, the German army has focused its operations on foreign missions, but as Mais says, it needs to be able to carry it intensive combat actions. Something that it is not capable of at the moment.

“At present, there is not a full German brigade that would be capable of participating in a weeks-long combat mission immediately and without a long period of preparations. We must quickly change the existing situation,” he said.

He said that one of the issues that needs to be addressed as a priority is the German artillery.

“The army in its current shape still has four battalions of artillery, around 100 self-propelled howitzers, and almost 40 Mars rocket launchers. Only a part of them is ready for daily use. That is something to worry about thinking about the future,” said the General. According to him, Germany needs to double the number of artillery battalions, but naturally “for that, we need additional artillery pieces and rocket launchers”.

Meanwhile, Ukraine expects Germany send more arms

Lieutenant General Mais’ assessment of the German army’s capabilities may dampen the Ukrainian government’s enthusiasm and hopes of receiving more military assistance from Germany, at least if the German government listens to Mais.

Kyiv has been very critical of Berlin’s slow reaction to Ukraine’s calls for heavy equipment in the early months of the war. According to an interview Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to President Zelenskyy, gave to the German “t-portal” news website, the situation has now improved. The interview was published on the same day as General Mais’ interview for “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

As Mr Podolyak told the news website, “We see that there is a change of mentality in the German government, and they are increasingly aware of what kind of war is being waged here.”

“Our relations have improved. Germany recently has shown some character,” Podolyak responded to the question about the scorching criticism Kyiv levelled against Berlin earlier.

Germany to deliver 18 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. In 30 months

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The rocket systems promised by Germany have finally begun arriving in Ukraine. “Furthermore, the German government is now considering its position on new weapons shipments,” said Podolyak. “With 200 modern [Leopard 2] tanks and [Marder] infantry fighting vehicles, we could hasten our counteroffensives on numerous sections of the front.”

But when inquired about whether Berlin has promised to deliver the Leopard tanks and the Marder IFVs to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Mr Podolyak said that “we have not signed any agreements. But we expect a shipment of such magnitude soon, once Berlin sees how effective the planning by the Ukrainian General Staff is.”

In light of what the German Inspector of the Army said, Podolyak’s optimism may have been premature.

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