After a long wait from Berlin, Germany has finally fulfilled one of its promises to Ukraine that it would supply heavy offensive weaponry. These German self-propelled howitzers, also known as the Panzerhaubitze 2000, will be vital for Ukrainians’ fight against Russian forces in the east as it has become a slugfest of artillery shelling. These howitzers will be added to the towed 155 mm artillery in Ukraine, composed of the M777, FH70, M109, AHS Krab, and the Caesar.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov expressed elation with the delivery of these SPGs since these guns will be augmenting a dwindling supply of Western-donated artillery shells that are being expended by the thousands every day.

“We have replenishment!…The German Panzerhaubitze 2000 with trained Ukrainian crews joined the Ukrainian artillery family,” Reznikov said.

“Panzerhaubitze 2000 are finally part of 155 mm howitzer arsenal of the Ukrainian artillery. I appreciate all efforts of my colleague 🇩🇪 #DefMin Christine Lambrecht in support of 🇺🇦. In a tweet, our artillerymen will bring the heat to the battlefield 🔥🔥🔥!” he said.

Italian Army Artillery Training Regiment firing a Panzerhaubitze 2000, 2019 (www.esercito.difesa.it, CC BY 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Italian_Army_Artillery_Training_Regiment_Panzerhaubitze_2000_firing.png
Italian Army Artillery Training Regiment was firing a Panzerhaubitze 2000, 2019 (www.esercito.difesa.it, CC BY 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Italian_Army_Artillery_Training_Regiment_Panzerhaubitze_2000_firing.png

Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk also thanked Berlin for its donation:
“The German defense industry is ready to produce 100 new self-propelled Howitzers for Ukraine at short notice. We very much hope that Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the German Security Council will approve the relevant request,” he stated.

The arrival of these Panzerhaubitze 2000s came after Ukraine’s continued pleas toward Western countries to supply it with more heavy offensive artillery as they have been struggling to keep up with Russian shelling. However, Germany’s delivery of these weapons came after a series of delays and international pressure brought upon German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He had been lukewarm with its support for the Ukrainian war effort.

Last May, Germany finally agreed to send 7 Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers to Ukraine to follow countries such as the United States, which has continually supplied Ukraine with M777 howitzers.

The German Defense Ministry announced its decision to send these howitzers through a tweet, stating that the Ukrainians would be trained to use the self-propelled howitzers in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.

An Artillery War in the East

The fighting in Eastern Ukraine has undoubtedly been about the Russian advantage in terms of artillery. This is why Ukraine has been itching to get more howitzers and artillery to retaliate against the Russian forces. As a result, the two countries are seemingly in a stalemate in the east along the frontlines in Severodonetsk, with neither side getting a total advantage over one other.

SOFREP previously reported that the Ukrainians were outgunned 20 to 1 in artillery and 40 to 1 in ammunition. Russian forces outgunned Ukraine’s artillery, which only had a maximum range of 15.5 miles. Meanwhile, Russian artillery can attack from 12 times this distance. With the Russians constantly shelling the Ukrainians, it would be difficult for the Ukrainian troops to advance and get their artillery into firing range as they are likely to get targeted by the Russian forces. Furthermore, they have also reported that they were out of ammunition and losing over 200 men a day due to the Russian capacity to rain artillery on them continually.

Thus, the addition of the Panzerhaubitze 2000s is significantly beneficial to Ukraine since its systems are known to hit targets up to 25 miles away, giving Ukrainians somewhat of a boost when it comes to the maximum firing range. The Panzerhaubitze 2000s is also known to have the most effective tube artillery system in the world

Germany No Longer Stiffing Ukraine?

Before the Germans sent these howitzers, Scholz was heavily criticized for lacking their support for Ukraine. The Germans had a long-standing policy of not sending weapons to active warzones. In addition, many Germans and analysts have stated that Scholz was sweet-talking their way out of sending arms to Ukraine as they have not sent heavy weapons despite promises to do so at that time.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during his visit to Ukraine (Maria Avdeeva). Source: https://twitter.com/maria_avdv/status/1539629673625358336
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during his visit to Ukraine (Maria Avdeeva). Source: https://twitter.com/maria_avdv/status/1539629673625358336

In fact, they were so unwilling to send heavy weaponry that they once offered to send Ukraine 5,000 helmets to defend themselves against Russia. Later, the Germans sent anti-tank mines, small arms, hand grenades, radios, and spare parts to Kyiv. They were also supposed to send some 50 units of their Gepard anti-aircraft guns last April; however, the Swiss blocked the transfer of the ammo for the Gepard, who produced the 35mm ammunition.

It now seems that Scholz is making good on his promises to Ukraine. However, Germany and other European countries can do much more for Ukraine as the United States still eclipses the entirety of Europe’s military aid to Ukraine. With the United States’ additional $1 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, the US has sent $5.6 billion in overall security assistance to Kyiv since the start of the invasion on February 24th.

Suppose Scholz believes that Germany has a “historical responsibility” to help the Ukrainians fight for their freedom against the Russians. In that case, it should be more active in supplying Kyiv with what they need. But instead, Ukraine has made its weapons requests public, with Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak stating that they needed a ton more heavy weaponry, including 1,000 155mm caliber howitzers, 300 MLRS, 500 tanks, and 2,000 units of armored vehicles, and 1,000 drones.

Can Germany keep up its military support for Ukraine? Are these deliveries of howitzers to Kyiv just another way to appease international pressure off of Scholz? When will they deliver the IRIS-T air defense system they promised Ukraine? These questions must be answered in the coming weeks as the war rages on with no signs of slowing down.