The Gepards, a poisoned gift from Germany to Ukraine?

After weeks of doubts and after Olaf Scholz even used the danger of a nuclear war to justify not sending heavy weapons to Germany, the German government announced that fifty Gepard anti-aircraft armor would be sent to Ukraine. According to the Defense Minister, the tanks would be supplied by German industry (they are manufactured by the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann consortium) and Ukrainian soldiers would also be offered training in the use of the PhZ 2000 self-propelled howitzers that would be provided by countries such as Denmark.

But even so, the chancellor has not left behind the criticisms that accuse him of lukewarmness and indecision regarding Russia. Now, media and military experts question whether the chosen weaponry is appropriate to help Ukraine.

One of the criticisms refers to the complexity in the use of Gepard armor, which were born in the 70s in the middle of the cold war and that Germany stopped using ten years ago. The Gepards are equipped with two 35-millimeter cannons and radar and can hit air targets (which would make them very useful for taking down low-flying drones or planes and helicopters) or ground targets. The former military commanders who quote some German media to report on the complexity of these armored vehicles say that it takes months (they point to between two and six) to use them with precision and warn that a driver, a gunner and a commander are needed in each to handle it.

Government sources cited by different media indicate that the Government would be considering instructing Ukrainian soldiers in German territory for six or eight weeks so until summer Ukraine could not use them against Russia.

The other problem around these armored vehicles would be in the ammunition: German industry would be in a position to give up fifty armored vehicles in a short time, but not enough ammunition to keep them operational. As reported by the bild last week, there would only be ammunition for 23,000 shots, “twenty minutes” of attack by all the armored vehicles, and the Executive would be trying to get more from the countries that still use them, such as Brazil, Qatar or Romania.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, extremely critical of the chancellor in recent weeks, has referred to this weaponry and the impossibility of its being used in the immediate future: “There is no ammunition.” This same Tuesday, in response to Scholz’s last interview, he referred to the chancellor to regret that he has not yet found the missing ammunition and to criticize his small stature as a “statesman” in the face of the Social Democrat’s refusal to visit kyiv, as if will make the leader of the CDU.

Meanwhile, the possibility that end up sending more heavy weapons, such as PhZ 2000 self-propelled howitzers, is awakening some critical voices within the country. Last week, a group of personalities sent a letter to Scholz expressing their rejection of him. “For the first time I am seeing the possibility of a Third World War as real,” one of the promoters, the feminist Alice Schwarzer, later explained. The letter, signed by 28 people, is gathering tens of thousands of supporters online. Meanwhile, some analyzes highlight the range of up to 70 kilometers of the PhZ 2000 and the possibility that Ukraine could use them to attack Russian territory.

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