Arms deliveries: German arms exports heading for new record

Arms deliveries: German arms exports heading for new record
Arms deliveries: German arms exports heading for new record

Arms exports continue to rise rapidly. This is mainly due to deliveries to one country.

After a record arms export last year, export licenses rose again significantly in the first half of 2024 due to a continued increase in arms deliveries to Ukraine. From January 1 to June 18, the federal government permitted the delivery of military goods worth at least 7.48 billion euros abroad. Compared to the entire first half of 2023, this represents an increase of a good 30 percent. Almost two thirds of exports (65 percent or 4.88 billion euros) are destined for Ukraine, which is supported by Germany in its defensive struggle against Russia. This is according to a response from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to a request from Bundestag member Sevim Dagdelen from the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), which the German Press Agency has received.

Saudi Arabia back among the most important customers

For the first time in a long time, Saudi Arabia is among the five most important recipient countries, with export licenses worth 132.48 million euros. The hard-line kingdom was subject to a broad arms export ban for several years due to its involvement in the Yemen war and the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate general in Istanbul, which the German government has now relaxed. Even the blockade of the delivery of Eurofighter fighter jets by Great Britain has been lifted.

However, the Ministry of Economic Affairs points out in its response that the permits were issued exclusively for or in connection with joint projects with other EU or NATO partners. Other top five recipient countries include Singapore (1.21 billion euros), India (153.75 million euros) and Qatar (100.0 million euros). In India’s case, it is also about reducing the country’s dependence on Russian arms deliveries.

Turning point = U-turn in arms export policy

In their coalition negotiations, the SPD, Greens and FDP had actually planned to curb arms exports and introduce a control law for this purpose. Then the Ukraine war brought about a turnaround in arms policy. The self-imposed ban on arms deliveries to an ongoing war was withdrawn by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in his “Zeitenwende” speech on February 27, 2022.

In the first year of the war, 2022, according to official government statistics, arms deliveries worth 2.24 billion euros were approved for Ukraine, including anti-aircraft systems and heavy artillery. In 2023, Leopard 2 battle tanks were added, which the federal government provided after much hesitation. Export permits for Ukraine rose to 4.4 billion euros. This figure has already been exceeded again in the first six months of this year. Germany is the second largest arms supplier to Ukraine after the USA.

Dagdelen accuses the traffic light coalition of breaking election promises

Since a reduction in arms deliveries to Ukraine is not foreseeable, the total volume of arms exports could reach a record high again at the end of the year. Last year, more arms were exported than ever before, at 12.2 billion euros. After less than six months, more than 60 percent of this value has already been reached. The approved exports include war weapons worth 5.52 billion euros and other arms worth 1.96 billion euros.

BSW politician Dagdelen sharply criticized the ongoing increase: “The massive increase in arms exports to war and crisis zones, not only to Ukraine but also to countries like Saudi Arabia, is irresponsible and a further breach of election promises by the traffic light parties.”

Source: Stern

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