Slovakia has moved to quell criticism that it is blocking the repair of German-made weapons sent to Ukraine that now need repairs in the EU. Damaged howitzers are piling up on the Ukrainian-Slovak border, according to the German edition of the Business Insider website, citing several high-ranking sources in the German government.
Slovakia's acting defence minister, Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO), denies that Slovakia is holding up the repairs. Naď explained that Slovakia has fulfilled all its obligations arising from a memorandum on weapons repairs signed with Germany.
The minister conceded the existence of certain problems, but said they were caused by a German contractor.
"We've notified the German side about this. The German Defence Ministry and the chancellor's office took adequate steps. The situation has moved forward and I no longer see a problem there. I have no information about the fact that any equipment would be standing [on the border] for weeks," Naď said, according to the TASR newswire.Slovakia will repair Ukrainian armoured vehicles Read more
The German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann established a repair centre for weapons delivered to Ukraine near the eastern-Slovak town of Michalovce, in Košice Region. The weapons consist of heavy anti-tank guns, Gepard anti-aircraft systems and Mars rocket launchers.
Slovak contractors are also repairing some armoured vehicles from Ukraine. For example, Slovakia's Konštrukta-Defence, a state enterprise, deals with damaged Ukrainian tanks.
The Business Insider report points to unresolved legal issues related, among other things, to import duties. The German contractor admits that some legal issues were overlooked when concluding the relevant contract at the end of last year because of the fast pace with which the documents were put together.
According to Naď, the customs issues have already been dealt with. "There were other problems. They will be solved after the German company that is responsible for them completes its tasks," Naď added, saying he does not foresee any further problems.Western countries pay for more Zuzana howitzers for Ukraine Read more
According to Business Insider, the German Defense has been trying to redirect individual weapons to the repair centre via other EU countries that do not face the same problems as Slovakia, but that this means transporting the items hundreds of kilometres more, resulting in significant wasted time. Some of the Mars and Gepard systems will be repaired directly in Germany.
The German website reported that Slovakia's acting prime minister, Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), told the German government that the issues would be swiftly resolved, but doubts later emerged in Germany about his reassurances.