German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has announced the delivery of 16 wheeled armoured howitzers from Slovakia to Ukraine for the coming year in a deal Berlin is partly financing.
The systems of the type Zuzana would be produced in Slovakia and financed together with Denmark, Norway and Germany, the minister told public broadcaster ARD on Sunday after returning from her first trip to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24.
The relevant production facilities are available in Slovakia, Lambrecht said. “This shows how important it is to keep exploring such possibilities together with one’s partners, but then also to implement them,” the minister added.
The Zuzana howitzer is the flagship product of the Slovakian defence industry and the only heavy weapon system produced in the country. According to the manufacturer, it can fire all types of NATO ammunition in 155-millimetre calibre.
The ministry put the total value of the procurement at €92 million ($90.19 million), with the three countries financing it equally.
During her visit, Lambrecht assured Ukraine of the rapid delivery of a first unit of the IRIS-T SLM air defence system. Germany will initially provide Ukraine with four of the systems, each costing €140 million. The financing of three more systems has been secured.
Lambrecht, who had to seek shelter in bunkers twice during her one-day visit to Odessa because of air alerts and the threat of missiles and drones, stressed the importance of air defence for Ukraine.
Air alerts are everyday life for the people in Ukraine, she told ARD: “This shows how much they are tormented, how much they are restricted and how much they are burdened.”
The minister stressed, “That’s why it’s so important to support Ukraine right now in terms of air defence, so that these attacks can be fought.”
She added that the German government would also be further engaged in the fight against drones.
Courtesy © dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH www.dpa.com