WASHINGTON – Training for German Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers is expected to begin in Germany next week, after officials confirmed on Friday that the Dutch and German governments had approved the deployment of 12 of the heavy weapons for the battle.
The decision comes after many disputes in Berlin over Germany’s level of military support for Ukraine. Previously, the government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, was reluctant to provide heavy weapons, although key ministers in the ruling coalition were reportedly more inclined than Scholz.
The provision of self-propelled howitzers follows the expected logic of intensified fighting in areas of eastern Ukraine, described by Western analysts as a war of attrition by long-range fire.
Speaking at a news conference in Sliac, central Slovakia, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht called the number of howitzers to be sent “militarily reasonable”. Seven will come from Germany’s arsenal, taken from the maintenance reserve, not from active Bundeswehr units, she said. The Dutch will provide five of the 155-millimeter weapons.
Heavy weapons have already entered Ukraine from other countries as Russian forces try to penetrate deeper into eastern and southern Ukraine. Citing open source reports, the Washington-based New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy wrote on May 3 that the Czech Republic and Poland had sent variants of Soviet-era Grad missile systems. In addition, howitzers have been promised or have already been delivered by the United States, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Poland and France, according to the think tank. accounting.
The heavy weapons delivered so far are a mixture of Warsaw Pact materials and newer Western equipment. The latter, including Panzerhaubitze 2000, promise greater range and higher firing speeds, potentially giving Ukrainian defenders an advantage not only in repelling Russian attacks but also in returning to Ukrainian territory.
Lambrecht and her Dutch and Slovak counterparts, Kaisa Olongren and Jaroslav Nay, respectively, met in Sliac on Friday to discuss a joint effort to deploy Patriot air defense units there. The goal, they said, is to protect NATO’s eastern front as war rages in neighboring Ukraine.
Seriously supported by the Americans, the Dutch and German armed forces sent one Patriot unit each for an initial period of six months.
The Patriot system can intercept missiles or planes within a range of about 45 miles, according to a German military website. With its current deployment in Slovakia, the system’s powerful radar, used to find and track targets, will be placed in a slightly suboptimal position at relatively low altitudes to avoid disruption to civilian infrastructure, Naď confirmed.
This is because the country is still in a state of peace, legally speaking, he explained. The sensor could be moved to a higher level if that changes, he said, adding that the current configuration will still offer adequate performance.
Sebastian Sprenger is a European editor of Defense News, who reports on the state of the defense market in the region and on US-European cooperation and multinational investment in defense and global security. He was previously the editor-in-chief of Defense News.