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German lawmakers reject arming Ukraine with long-range Taurus missiles

A Taurus air-launched cruise missile (file photo)

Two years into the war between Russia and Ukraine, German lawmakers have voted against a motion proposed by the opposition to supply Kiev with long-range Taurus missiles.

German legislators on Thursday supported giving further support to the ex-Soviet republic but refused to back an opposition-drafted motion to arm the war-ravaged country with German-Swedish air-launched cruise missiles.

Launched from a fighter jet, the Taurus missile can deliver a warhead weighing nearly half a ton, roughly the same as UK-made Storm Shadow cruise missiles, against a fortified target up to 310 miles (about 500 kilometers) away.

The missile can reach the Russian capital, Moscow, which lies about 450 kilometers from the border with Ukraine.

“Putin’s Russia is and will remain the greatest security threat to Europe for the foreseeable future,” claimed German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius during a speech delivered at Bundestag lower house, referring to President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Germany would counter it “with all our strength,” he said.

Since the onset of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, Germany has supplied Ukraine with the Leopard tanks and IRIS-T air defense systems. Britain and France have also sent Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles to the country.

Although Germany is the second biggest donor of military assistance to Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far resisted domestic and foreign pressure to arm Kiev with Taurus missiles, arguing that such help could escalate the conflict globally.

Since Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine, it has repeatedly warned the United States and its Western allies, including Germany, against involvement in the conflict. Moscow says it would use any weapon in its arsenal to protect its security.

Moscow also says the West and NATO are playing a direct role in the Ukraine conflict by pouring advanced weapons and military equipment into Ukraine.

A Tu-160M strategic bomber

Flying on nuclear-capable bomber, Putin sends message to West

Separately on Thursday, Putin took a flight on a modernized Tupolev Tu-160M nuclear-capable strategic bomber in a move that could be perceived as a reminder to the West of Russia’s nuclear capabilities.

Equipped with variable-sweep wing, the giant supersonic aircraft – codenamed by NATO as “Blackjacks” – is a modernized version of a Soviet-era heavy bomber Moscow would have deployed in the event of nuclear war to deliver weapons at long distances.

In broadcast footage by the state television, Putin was shown clambering down a ladder from Tu-160M after the flight. He told reporters that it was a reliable and modernized aircraft that could be accepted by the Russian Air Force.

“It’s a new machine. A lot about it is new. It’s easier to control. It’s reliable,” the 71-year-old Russian president said about the strategic bomber, which Russia nicknames “White Swans.”

According to Russian news agencies, the flight with Putin aboard lasted half an hour.

The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Tu-160M’s flight path was a military secret.

The four-crewed aircraft can carry 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles and is capable of flying 12,000 kilometers non-stop without refueling. The modernized version is said to be 60 percent more effective than the older version.

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