France and Germany sold weapons to Russia, despite the arms embargo

Paris and Berlin sent Moscow £230m of military hardware including missiles and bombs. This is likely to be used in Ukraine

An EU analysis shared by The Telegraph revealed that Russia was arming France and Germany with EUR273 million (£230million) worth of military hardware.

They sent equipment to Moscow, including bombs, rockets and missiles, despite an EU-wide embargo on arms shipments from Russia. This embargo was in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation.

This month, the European Commission had to close a loophole within its blockade. It was discovered that almost EUR350 million (£294 million) of hardware was exported by at least 10 member countries to Vladimir Putin’s regime. Around 78% of this total was supplied to France and Germany.

The German chancellor Olaf Scholz has been subject to fierce criticism for refusing to give heavy weapons to Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of appeasement for his efforts to negotiate with Putin.

Paris and Berlin both resisted an EU ban on Russia purchasing gas. The bloc is currently paying Moscow EUR1billion (£840m) per day to supply energy supplies.

According to the EU report, a top Russian commander stated that Moscow has increased its ambitions to “full control” both southern Ukraine and the eastern Donbas regions.

Major General Rustam Minajev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, stated that Russian forces would build a land bridge between Crimea and Ukraine and push as far into Moldova.

Boris Johnson, the Russian ambassador to New Delhi, warned Friday that Russia could still win. He announced plans to send British tanks and artillery to Poland so that Ukraine can receive T-72 models from Soviet times.

When asked if Russia could win the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister said it was possible and that Moscow was close to seizing Mariupol.

Putin informed Charles Michel, president of the European Council on Friday that the Marines who were confined to the city’s Azovstal Steel Plant would be allowed live if surrendered.

Mr Scholz was meanwhile pointing to the danger of nuclear war in an attempt to address critics of Berlin’s refusal to supply Ukraine with high-powered arms.

When it was revealed that German companies had exploited a loophole in the EU embargo against arms exports, critics grew. This allowed them to sell “dual-use” equipment to Moscow for EUR121 million (£107million).

Berlin claimed that it used ambiguity in the EU’s 2014 arms blockade and maintained that the goods were only sold after the Kremlin had guaranteed that they were for civilian use.

A spokesperson for the country’s economic ministry said that export licenses would not be granted if there was evidence of military use.

As part of 76 export licenses, France was also found responsible for sending shipments to Russia worth EUR152million (£128million). Paris granted exporters the ability to fulfil contracts that were signed before 2014. This was possible by using a backdoor technique in the EU embargo.

French companies also sent thermal imaging cameras to more than 1,000 Russian tanks, as well as navigation systems and bomber jets for attack helicopters and fighter jets.

The invasion began on February 24, and since then, the EU has placed further restrictions on exports of dual-use products to Moscow. This closes the loophole.

It took the bloc however until its fifth package, which was described by Brussels as the most severe ever, before the exemption from previously agreed arms sales to Russia could be scrapped.

Although the French government didn’t comment on the exemption it used, they have previously supported the “grandfather clause”.

After protests by Baltic and eastern member countries, the loophole was finally closed on April 8.

When it became clear that weapons were still flowing into Russia, envoys from Poland, as well as Lithuania, made sure the original 2014 arms embargo text was changed.

The European Commission reported that Russia sold weapons and ammunition to EU countries worth EUR39 million last year (£33 million), as the Kremlin prepared to invade Ukraine.

Tobias Ellwood (chairman of the Commons defense committee) stated that all Nato member countries should declare that they will not send arms to Russia at June’s Madrid summit.

He stated that Russia is now a threat to European security and that there was no reason for any European country not to continue providing arms to Russia.

Admiral Lord West, a former First Sea Lord, stated: “Using loopholes in order to avoid the EU arms embargo on Russia post the Crimean invasion, is effectively a crime, and astonishingly stupid.”

Senior EU source said: “It is time for France and Germany to wake up and get real.”

Cristian Terhes (the Romanian MEP) shared the EU analysis and stated: “While Ukraine desperately needs weapons in order to defend itself against Putin’s invasion, Germany, France and Germany are silent but were happy enough quiet to quietly and shamefully sell their goods to Moscow.”

This EU report was the result of investigations last month by two investigative news sites, Disclose and Investigate Europe into Europe’s worst weapons exporters to Russia.

After the EU embargo, Italy sent arms in the amount of EUR22.5million (£19million) to Moscow. Britain had sales of EUR2.4million (£2million).

Between 2015 and 2022, Austria, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic shipped EUR49.3 Million (£41 Million) in arms to Russia.

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