The GuardianThe Guardian

Germany's change of heart is now pivotal to the war in Ukraine. Here’s why

By John Kampfner

15 May 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

German leaders announced a doubling of military aid to Ukraine, to more than €5 billion. This marks a geo-strategic transformation for a long-hesitant Germany, argues John Kampfner in The Guardian.

Unlike British or French politicians, Olaf Scholz doesn’t do pomp. Nor does he do charm. A man who screws up his eyes when he tries to smile, the German chancellor welcomed Ukraine’s president to Berlin on Sunday with characteristic stiffness.

Yet of all Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s meetings with fellow European leaders over the past few days – from Rome to Paris to Chequers today for more hardware and more embraces with Rishi Sunak – his day in Germany may be remembered as the most important. The announcement on the eve of his visit of a doubling of military aid to Ukraine to a total of more than €5bn finally brings Germany in from the cold. The consequences may take months to be seen on the battlefield, but in geo-strategic terms they are immediate.

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