German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius reiterated his country’s reluctance to send cruise missiles to Ukraine, but did not categorically rule out supplying the weapons in the future.
“We are still of the opinion that this is not our top priority right now,” Pistorius said on Thursday during a visit to Germany’s 23rd Mountain Infantry Brigade in the southern German town of Bad Reichenall.
Ukraine has called on Germany to deliver Taurus cruise missiles in order to strike Russian military targets far behind the Russian frontlines. German officials have expressed hesitation because the weapons could also be used to attack Russian territory.
The German military currently holds stockpiles of about 600 cruise missiles.
Pistorius said on Thursday that the concerns are “obvious” and made a point of noting that the United States has also so far declined to supply cruise missiles. He added that the German missiles have a long range.
Britain began delivering Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine in May. In July, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to supply Ukraine with SCALP long-range missiles as well.
Pistorius on Thursday left the door open to reconsidering Germany’s decision on Taurus missiles in the future: “The time has not yet come for us to make a decision.”
He said Germany has taken a leading role in supplying Ukraine with air defence, training support as well as engineering and armoured vehicles.
“That is our first priority, our core competence. From there, we don’t see any urgent need for a decision on the other issue at the moment,” Pistorius said.
The parties in Germany’s governing coalition are divided on whether to supply cruise missiles. Marcus Faber, a defence policy expert with the pro-business FDP party, has spoken out in favour of supplying the missiles.