Foreign and defense politicians from several parties have criticized Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier for statements about German aid to Ukraine. The chairwoman of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), accused Steinmeier of misunderstanding his role.

“Instead of living up to his role as Federal President and giving a big speech to the citizens to explain the seriousness of the situation, he is ridiculing experts in order to support the SPD’s election campaign,” Strack-Zimmermann said “Tagesspiegel” said. That is “simply unworthy”.

Dissatisfaction with the German debate on weapons systems

On Friday at the readers’ conference of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ) in Frankfurt, Steinmeier defended Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s (SPD) decision not to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. “To be honest, given the scale that we now make available, I think the federal government can have a certain amount of leeway in deciding what it makes available and what it might not,” he said.

At the same time, he expressed displeasure with the German debate about weapons systems. “Yes, we have to discuss everything, and the military experts, the caliber experts, do so with exuberance and with growing ambition,” said the Federal President. After two years of war and “impressive” support for Kiev from Germany, it is “not such a bad interim result” that the majority of the population still supports Scholz’s Ukraine policy.

The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen told the “Tagesspiegel” that he had not yet criticized Steinmeier with regard to his office. “But there is ridicule and contempt in the Federal President’s formulations when he appears irritated by the debate about weapons systems, which is being led by parts of the coalition and the opposition with massive criticism of the Chancellor.” It was not appropriate language to be derisive and derogatory about those who were having this discussion. Criticism also came from the Greens.

Majority of Germans reject Taurus delivery

The debate over possible deliveries of long-range Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine has been going on for months. According to a survey published by the opinion research institute Forsa for the RTL/ntv “Trendbarometer”, a majority of 56 percent of Germans continue to reject Taurus deliveries. In March, 66 percent were against it. According to the current survey, 37 percent of German citizens (compared to 28 percent in March) are in favor of supporting Ukraine with this weapon system.