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UK is pushing Germany to send Taurus missiles to Ukraine

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The UK government has privately urged Germany to provide long-range Taurus missiles to the government in Kyiv as London expressed irritation over comments made by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about British activity in Ukraine, according to Bloomberg.

Senior British ministers and officials have repeatedly made clear to Germany that Ukraine badly needs its Taurus missiles, according to people familiar with the matter. The UK offered solutions to Berlin’s resistance to sending them, including a swap deal that would see Britain supply Kyiv with more of its own Storm Shadow missiles, and Germany then restock the UK with replacement long-range missiles. 

Germany should stop making excuses, said one British official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations between the countries.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made clear on Monday that he remains reluctant to send Taurus long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, pointing to a risk of his country becoming directly involved in the war with Russia, according to AP News.

“Scholz’s behavior has showed that as far as the security of Europe goes he is the wrong man, in the wrong job, at the wrong time,” former Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the Evening Standard newspaper on Thursday.

At a town hall meeting with citizens in Dresden on Thursday, Scholz explained his reasoning that Germany could not give Ukraine “a weapon with a range of 500km that, if used incorrectly, could reach a target in Moscow.” He added: “We have to make sure that we know where it will land,” suggesting the only way to do that would be to have German troops assisting with target-control.

That speaks to a wider argument that has developed between the UK and Germany over Scholz’s apparent reference this week to British and French troops assisting Ukrainians with the operation of long-range weapons systems against Russian targets. 

“What the British and French are doing in terms of target control and accompanying target control cannot be done in Germany,” Scholz said on Monday.

Those remarks have been seen by some British lawmakers as Scholz publicly commenting on the classified activities of UK soldiers in Ukraine. A “small number of personnel” are “supporting the armed forces of Ukraine,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman Dave Pares said on Tuesday, offering no details. 

“Scholz’s comments are wrong, irresponsible and a slap in the face to allies,” Alicia Kearns, chair of the UK’s foreign affairs select committee, said in a post on the social media site X. “Scholz should give Taurus and stop holding back the security of Europe.”

Nils Schmid, a senior lawmaker from Scholz’s Social Democratic Party who sits on the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said the chancellor’s remarks on British activity in Ukraine had only referred to “publicly available arguments.” 

The reaction of “some British Conservative politicians is completely exaggerated,” Schmid told Bloomberg, calling the matter “an artificially manufactured furor that distracts from the real issue” of ammunition for Ukraine. 

“In substance, the cooperation between the British and German governments in support of Ukraine has been very good” since the war began, he said.