Netherlands will send 400 anti-tank rockets to Ukraine; Could send Patriot missiles to Slovakia
This article was updated when the Dutch government confirmed the additional arms package.
The Netherlands is going to send fifty rocket launchers with four hundred German-made rockets-propelled grenades to Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense confirmed. The Netherlands was required to obtain Germany's permission for this, because a German export license is obligated even after purchasing the weapons. Permission was granted by the German government at the end of the afternoon on Saturday.
The Panzerfaust 3 rockets are anti-tank weapons fired from portable launcher supported on one’s shoulder. It is not yet known when the weapons will arrive in Ukraine. Earlier Saturday, the Cabinet also announced that it will send 200 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine. They can hit aircraft and helicopters up to a distance of five kilometers away. Ukraine asked for additional support once Russia’s further invasion of the country appeared imminent. The Cabinet wants to send the weapons to allow Ukraine to defend itself.
Germany’s approval of the arms package was initially reported by DPA, whose reporters received information from government sources. So far, Germany has refused to export deadly weaponry to Ukraine on principle, despite Ukraine’s pleas for help.
Patriot missiles may be sent to Slovakia
The Netherlands is also investigating whether it can send a Patriot missile air defense unit to Slovakia as part of its obligation to NATO, together with Germany. Its purpose is "collective deterrence" and defense of NATO's eastern flank, the Ministry of Defense said.
The installation is capable of shooting down planes, helicopters, or cruise missiles in mid-air. This is possible up to an altitude of 20 kilometers, and over a distance of 60 kilometers.
The Netherlands has already sent fighter jets, including two F-35s, to Eastern Europe to defend NATO airspace. That is in addition to planned increases in NATO contributions, which will also involve deploying two F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria, along with 90 crew members, in April and May.
Rutte again speaks with Zelenskyy
Less than 30 minutes after the DPA report was published, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte sent a message on Twitter saying he spoke over the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday. Rutte said he told the Ukrainian leader that the Netherlands “would deliver additional military goods for self-defence against Russian aggression.” This new arms package, Rutte confirmed late in the afternoon, is “in addition to the 200 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles already on the way.”
Rutte also spoke on Saturday with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. "We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine at this dark time." Rutte writes.
Over a week ago, the Dutch Cabinet decided to supply a hundred sniper rifles and ammunition to Ukraine. The Netherlands is also providing helmets, flak vests and radar systems. Some of that was dispatched Friday or Saturday, but the Netherlands is facing "logistical challenges", the Cabinet said on Saturday. The rest of the material will be "shipped as soon as possible.”
By contrast, Germany has so far only promised 5,000 helmets to Kyiv. They were handed over to the Ukrainian army on Saturday. The country also approved the delivery of fourteen heavily-armored vehicles to Ukraine. These are ideally suited to evacuate people. It has also promised to deliver 10,000 tons of fuel via Poland. More support is still being discussed.
"After Russia's shameless attack, Ukraine must be able to defend itself," said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Deputy Chancellor Robert Habeck. The country “has the absolute right to self-defense. The federal government is therefore also supporting Ukraine with material that is urgently needed for the equipment."
Reporting by ANP