BERLIN (AP) — Germany has signed a deal for new ammunition for self-propelled anti-aircraft guns it provided to Ukraine to be produced at home after it ran into difficulties securing supplies from elsewhere, the defense minister said Tuesday.
Germany has supplied 32 of the Gepard anti-aircraft guns since it first agreed to send them to Ukraine in late April, and has pledged 37 in total. The German military hasn’t used them since 2012, so they came from stocks held in reserve by the defense industry.
Securing more ammunition for the guns has been a challenge, a matter of mounting concern as defense against repeated barrages of Russian missile and drone strikes has become a top priority for Kyiv.
Germany so far has been unsuccessful in months of efforts to persuade neutral Switzerland to approve exports to Ukraine of stockpiles in the Alpine country of Gepard ammunition, which was manufactured there by a subsidiary of German defense company Rheinmetall.
There are also stocks of the ammunition in Brazil, but President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made clear when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited last month that his country wants no involvement of any kind in the war in Ukraine and wouldn’t provide Germany with any.
Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said as he arrived at a meeting with counterparts from other allies of Ukraine in Brussels on Tuesday that contracts have now been signed to produce new ammunition in Germany.
“That means we will now start our own production of Gepard ammunition at Rheinmetall without delay,” Pistorius told reporters. “I am very happy that this succeeded because it better secures our independence and faster delivery.”
The minister said that “the negotiations with Switzerland took time, and in the end we were of the opinion that it is better to go our own way faster so as not to be dependent on them.”
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