COLOGNE, Germany — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is reiterating his opposition to supplying Kyiv with German Taurus cruise missiles, arguing the long-range weapons would require a level of tactical assistance from Berlin that contravenes NATO nations’ mantra of containing the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at a March 13 parliamentary question-and-answer session, Scholz stuck to his long-held talking points for Taurus, a bunker-busting, terrain-hugging missile with a range of 500 kilometers that can fly below the radar of air defenses. He argued the complex sequence of identifying targets and programming the weapon to strike them, theoretically as far away as Moscow, should remain in Bundeswehr hands.

Scholz’s remarks drew a sharp rebuke from opposition lawmakers of the Christian Democratic Union, who accused him of mistrusting Ukraine and disregarding the possibility local forces could eventually use the weapon entirely without German assistance.

Ukrainian officials have said there are no plans to hit targets in Moscow. Instead, they want Taurus missiles for striking Russian ammunition depots behind the front line and for attacking resupply routes, like the Kerch Bridge, that fuel Moscow’s assault.

The chancellor’s remarks in Berlin came after Russian state media publicized an intercepted conversation in which four German air force officials discussed options for minimizing the German government’s fingerprints if the weapons were to be given to Ukraine.

While experts here have hotly debated the details of the call, including whether German involvement in using the weapons could be avoided altogether, the conversation suggested it would be tricky for German officials to donate Taurus with no strings attached.

Germany ranks as Europe’s biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine. By the government’s own accounting, roughly €28 billion worth of equipment has already been provided or is earmarked over the next few years.

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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