Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky agrees that weapons supplied by the West will not be used to attack Russian territory, Germany’s leader said in an interview Sunday.
“There is a consensus on this point,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with the weekly Bild am Sonntag.
Ukraine’s Western allies have pledged to arm it with precision rockets and missile systems, as well as tanks, as it tries to push back Russian troops in its east.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared the intervention of countries such as Germany with his nation’s struggle during World War II.
“Again and again, we are forced to repel the aggression of the collective West,” he said Thursday on the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad.
But Scholz rejected the comparison.
“His words are part of a series of absurd historical comparisons that he uses to justify his attack on Ukraine,” he said.
“But nothing justifies this war.
“Together with our allies, we are supplying battle tanks to Ukraine so that it can defend itself. We have carefully weighed each delivery of weapons, in close coordination with our allies, starting with America.”
He said that such a consensus-based approach “avoids an escalation.”
On Friday, the Pentagon said a new $2.2 billion US arms package for Ukraine includes a new rocket-propelled precision bomb that could nearly double Kyiv’s strike range against the Russians.
Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said the new package includes the ground-launched small-diameter bombs (GLSDB), a munition that can fly up to 150 kilometers (93 miles), which would threaten Russian positions and depots far behind the front lines.
“This gives them a longer-range capability… that will enable them to conduct operations in defense of their country and to take back their sovereign territory,” Ryder said.
Ukraine had been asking the United States for munitions that can fly farther than the HIMARS rockets with an 80-kilometer (50-mile) range.
The GLSDB potentially gives Ukraine forces an ability to strike anywhere in the Russian-occupied Donbas, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, and the northern part of occupied Crimea.
That could threaten key Russian supply lines, arms depots and air bases.
Zelensky tweeted his thanks to President Joe Biden for the new aid.
“The more long-range our weapons are and the more mobile our troops are the sooner Russia’s brutal aggression will end,” he said.
The GLSDB, made by Boeing and Saab, is a gliding rocket with a small bomb attached.
Saab says it can hit a target from any angle within one meter.
“The precision of GLSDB is so high it can hit within the radius of a car tire,” Saab said on its website.
Writing in December, John Hardie and Bradley Bowman of the Washington security think-tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies said the GLSDB can be launched from a variety of standard launchers, including the HIMARS and M270 MLRS systems already in use in Ukraine.
“But it can also be fired by non-traditional launchers, such as from the back of an ordinary-looking truck or from a nondescript shipping container hidden in plain sight,” they said.
“That would make it more difficult for Russian forces to find and destroy the system.”
But they said it could take up to nine months for the first deliveries of the system to Ukraine.
The Pentagon did not immediately reply to a query on the delivery time.
A Boeing spokesperson said in an email they were not sharing any details on how long it would take to get the GLSDB into the hands of Ukrainian forces.
The new arms package included a wide range of arms, ammunition and other equipment, including HIMARS ammunition, armored vehicles, Javelin anti-tank rockets, medical supplies and cold-weather gear.
The package also focuses on air defense, with two HAWK air defense units, anti-aircraft guns, air surveillance radars, counter-drone systems, and 190 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights to shoot down enemy drones.
It took to $29.3 billion the amount of total defense aid from the US to Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022.
The new package was announced just three weeks shy of the first anniversary of the war.