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Slovakia is not allowing German howitzers to cross border from Ukraine for repairs for several weeks

Thursday, 16 February 2023, 17:09
Slovakia is not allowing German howitzers to cross border from Ukraine for repairs for several weeks
The flag of Slovakia, AFP via Getty Images

Slovakia has been not allowing German-made weapons from Ukraine to enter its country, which are to be repaired there, for several weeks now.

Source: Business Insider; European Pravda

Details: In mid-December, Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), on behalf of the German Armed Forces, set up a repair centre near the Slovak city of Michalovce on the border with Ukraine to repair broken howitzers, Gepard anti-aircraft guns, or MARS systems.

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But Slovakia is not allowing the weapons to cross the border and reach the repair centre, referring to unresolved legal issues, including import duties.

According to Business Insider, vehicles with 15 malfunctioning self-propelled howitzers are waiting in front of the Slovak border to continue their journey. Heavy artillery on the Ukrainian side is extremely important for defence.

To at least partially defuse the situation, the German Defence Ministry is said to occasionally transport weapons through neighbouring EU countries, which means not only hundreds of kilometres of detours but above all a significant loss of repair time. MARS launchers and Gepard tanks will also be partially repaired in Germany.

It is not entirely clear why Slovakia is reacting in this way, despite the relevant governmental agreement. The German side admits that some legal issues related to the repair centre were ignored due to the speed with which the agreement was concluded at the end of last year.

On the other hand, new elections are to be held in Slovakia after the government was dismissed in a vote of no confidence in December. Since then, the country has been experiencing a government crisis and an unclear power situation. The left-wing opposition is considered more pro-Russian.

After various interventions by the federal government at various levels, Chancellor Olaf Scholz stepped in. In a telephone conversation last week, Acting Prime Minister Eduard Heger assured Scholz that the problem would be resolved quickly.

Background:

Earlier, Slovak National Council Speaker Boris Kollár said that in the matter of transferring MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, it must first be decided whether the interim government has the legitimacy to do so.

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