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Media: UK wants German Tauruses to send more of its Storm Shadows to Ukraine

Britain proposes acquiring German Tauruses as replacements for its Storm Shadows, aiming to supply Ukraine with more Storm Shadows. Chancellor Scholz’s office is reviewing this strategic exchange, with potential support from Berlin, per Handelsblatt.
A Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile at the ILA air show near Berlin in 2004. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Several weeks ago, Britain proposed to Germany an exchange of cruise missiles, potentially easing Germany’s hesitation about supplying its Taurus missiles to Ukraine, Handelsblatt reported on 24 January, referencing government and diplomatic sources. The proposal entails Britain sending Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine while receiving German Taurus missiles in return.

Since May 2023, Ukraine has been actively urging Germany to supply Taurus missiles to enhance their capability to disrupt Russian logistics, yet Berlin hesitates, contrasting with the UK and France’s decision to provide Ukraine with Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles and the US decision to send its ATACMS. The German government’s reluctance stems from fears of escalating the war by giving Ukraine the means to strike targets within Russia.

The Handelsblatt report added that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s office is closely examining the proposed missile swap, with sources familiar with the negotiations indicating potential support for the idea in Berlin.

Reuters noted that the German government chose not to comment on the report, while a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defence, when asked, emphasized that the UK, in collaboration with partners like Germany, is committed to collectively supporting Ukraine with the best equipment for its defense.

Germany reluctant to supply Ukraine with Taurus missiles

A week ago, German legislators voted down a motion by the Christian Democrats opposition party, which proposed supplying Ukraine with Taurus long-range cruise missiles. Before the vote, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, Chair of the Defense Committee who advocated sending the Tauruses to Ukraine, criticized the Christian Democrats for their “partisan tactic” in linking the non-binding Taurus proposal with a debate on the Bundeswehr’s status, effectively ensuring its rejection.

The ultimate decision on Taurus missile deliveries to Ukraine lies with the chair of Germany’s Federal Security Council, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has consistently declined to provide the missiles, concerned that their use against Russia might escalate the war further.

Ukraine renews its appeal for Germany to send Tauruses

On 24 January, the Ukrainian government announced the resumption of discussions with Germany regarding the delivery of Taurus missiles, despite the Bundestag’s rejection of this move last week, according to DW. This follows the German Defense Ministry’s commitment a day earlier to provide Ukraine with six combat helicopters, accessories, spare parts, and training.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized Ukraine’s intent to use Taurus missiles against Russian military installations within its occupied territories, not for strikes on Russian soil, addressing Berlin’s concerns about their potential misuse.

Media: Ukraine needs German Taurus missiles to hit Russian military targets, not Moscow says FM Kuleba

Ukraine’s months-long request for Taurus missiles met with neither clear rejection nor approval from Germany

  • Since May 2023, Ukraine has been urging Germany to transfer its Taurus missile to the country in order to intensify the disruption of Russia’s rear logistics.
  • In July 2023, several German politicians called for the government to supply Ukraine with Taurus cruise missiles.
  • In August 2023, the German media reported that the German government had “apparently given up its refusal to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine,” with a prerequisite for that being restrictions on the targeting software of the missile to disable attacks on Russia.
  • In September 2023, German officials told the WSJ that Germany’s three-party coalition government approved the Taurus delivery in principle, but German Chancellor Olaf Scholz allegedly froze the decision.
  • In November 2023, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius expressed skepticism about the Taurus’ potential to substantially change the frontline situation, saying that these missiles won’t “be a game-changer.”
  • In early January 2024, Bundestag Defense Committee Chair Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann urged Germany to supply Ukraine with Taurus air-launched cruise missiles amid increased Russian air attacks.
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