Ukraine’s war effort boosted by German arms-makers pledge on weapons

A Ukrainian soldier fires an anti-tank missile  (AP)
A Ukrainian soldier fires an anti-tank missile (AP)

Ukraine’s war effort received a major boost after a German arms-maker said it stands ready to hugely increase production of missiles, ammunition and weaponry as its western allies enter “fast-track” talks to get more arms to the front-line.

The boss of the German firm Rheinmetall, Armin Papperger, said it was ready to up its output of tank and artillery shells and might start producing HIMARS rocket launchers as well.

He was speaking days before a meeting with Germany’s defence minister to discuss how to speed up weapons procurement and boost ammunitions supplies.

Papperger, whose firm makes guns for the Leopard tanks which Germany has said it will send to Ukraine, said a new production line for anti-aircraft tank ammunition would be running later this year and they were in talks with US firm Lockheed Martin about manufacturing the HIMARS rocket launchers used by the Ukrainians.

He said: “We have the technology for the production of the warheads as well as for the rocket motors - and we have the trucks to mount the launchers upon.”

Ukraine and its Western allies are engaged in “fast-track“ talks on the possibility of equipping the invaded country with more long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top Ukrainian presidential aide said Saturday.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Ukraine’s supporters in the West “understand how the war is developing” and the need to supply planes capable of providing cover for the armored fighting vehicles the United States and Germany pledged at the beginning of the month.

However, in remarks to online video channel Freedom, Podolyak said some of Ukraine’s Western partners maintain a “conservative” attitude to arms deliveries, “due to fear of changes in the international architecture.”

Russia and North Korea have accused the West of prolonging and taking a direct role in the war by sending Kyiv increasingly sophisticated weapons.“We need to work with this. We must show (our partners) the real picture of this war,” Podolyak said, without naming specific countries.

“We must speak reasonably and tell them, for example, ‘This and this will reduce fatalities, this will reduce the burden on infrastructure. This will reduce security threats to the European continent, this will keep the war localized.’ And we are doing it.”

It comes as Ukraine’s airforce said it was in “negotiations” over getting a supply of fighter jets to replace its fleet of ageing Soviet-era warplanes.

Ukraine’s cause was also helped as a former Czech general swept to victory in the country’s presidential election having promised whole-hearted support for its resistance to the Russian invasion .

Petr Pavel has backed keeping the country of 10.5 million firmly in the European Union and NATO military alliance, and supports the government’s continued aid to Ukraine.