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Ukraine war drives licenses for arms exports to record levels

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the German government issued a record number of licenses for arms exports last year. According to preliminary figures released by the Federal Ministry of Economics on Thursday, individual licenses worth around 12.2 billion euros were issued in 2023....

Ukraine war drives licenses for arms exports to record levels

Compared to 2022, the value of export licenses increased by 46 percent overall. At that time, military equipment worth 8.36 billion euros received an export license. The previous high of 9.35 billion euros was reached in 2021.

In 2023, export licenses for war weapons worth 6.4 billion euros were issued. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, other military equipment worth 5.8 billion euros was also exported. These include pistols, hunting and sporting rifles as well as radar and radio technology.

"The new statistical high in arms export licenses for 2023 is a direct consequence of the security policy challenges of our time," explained State Secretary for Economic Affairs Sven Giegold (Greens). "The continuous German support for Ukraine in its self-defense against the Russian war of aggression, which violates international law, serves to secure the global peace order."

At around 1.2 billion euros, Norway accounted for the second-highest export value, followed by Hungary (1.03 billion euros), the UK (657 million euros) and the USA (546 million euros).

At the start of 2021, the Ampel government had set itself the goal of a more restrictive arms export policy. However, plans for an arms export control law have not yet made any progress. In the industry, particular reference is made to problems with joint European armaments projects if Germany handles the export of these goods more restrictively than other participating countries.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, 89% of the license value last year was accounted for by exports to EU, NATO and NATO-equivalent countries, including South Korea, Singapore and Ukraine. Other third countries accounted for eleven percent.

"This shows that the German government is sticking to its restrictive basic line on arms export policy decisions, according to which the issue of human rights is of particular importance for all arms export policy decisions," explained Giegold. The record demand for German armaments from partner countries is "an expression of an increased need for military security, for which Russia's aggression bears paramount responsibility".

"The traffic light approves arms deliveries like on an assembly line and in record amounts," criticized non-party member of the Bundestag Sevim Dagdelen, who had left the Left Party due to the planned founding of a new party around Sahra Wagenknecht. She called on the German government to find diplomatic negotiated solutions "instead of fueling a senseless war of attrition in Ukraine as well as the conflicts in the Middle East and worldwide with German arms deliveries".

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