Ukraine requests air-to-surface missiles from Germany
Ukraine is demanding air-to-surface missiles as it allegedly prepares for a counteroffensive against Russian troops.
Ukraine has requested that Germany provide it with Taurus air-to-surface missiles, the German Defense Ministry reported on Saturday.
The ministry told AFP that the missiles have a range exceeding 500 kilometers. According to a ministry spokesperson, the request came in "recent days".
The request comes as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive in an effort to wrestle back territory captured by Russia since the war began in February 2022.
The missiles, produced by German-Swedish joint venture Taurus Systems would allow Ukraine to strike well inside Russia with their range of more than 500 kilometers (310 miles).
The United States and other Western countries providing arms to Ukraine have thus far been cautious regarding giving Kiev weapons that could reach inside nuclear-armed Russia, potentially widening the conflict.
Germany, formerly regarded as reluctant to provide arms, is now Ukraine's second-largest military aid supplier behind the US.
More than 100 armored combat vehicles, 200 observation drones, 30 more Leopard 1 tanks, and anti-missile equipment are all part of its largest military aid package yet.
However, it has so far exercised caution when it comes to the use of air-to-surface missiles and fighter fighters.
Some Ukrainian officials have not been so optimistic relative to the final outcome of the counteroffensive, including President Volodymyr Zelensky who told the Washington Post earlier this week that forecasts of a massive change in war dynamics may be exaggerated.
Meanwhile, Yuri Sak, an advisor to the Ukrainian defense minister, said Ukraine plans to receive the first F-16 fighters from international donors in the early fall as soon as the US gives its approval for its allies to deliver their US-made fighter jets to Kiev.
"I would estimate that end of September, early October, we could see the first F-16s flying in the Ukrainian airspace," Sak was quoted by The Washington Post as saying.
The much-touted Ukrainian counteroffensive, anticipated to start in a few weeks, won't include fighter jets, but WashPo said the unusual rapidity with which the White House made the choice after over a year of hesitation.
It is worth noting that the Ukrainian President has been desperate for fighter jets, repeatedly pushing for advanced Western jets, but Kiev's international supporters had balked at doing so until recently.
US President Joe Biden previously ruled against supplying F-16s to Ukraine, citing concerns that training pilots and ground staff would take months and that providing them to Ukraine may be perceived by the Russians as an escalatory move.