Germany announced Tuesday that it will deliver 50 anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine. Photo by Marcus Rott/Bundeswehr
April 27 (UPI) -- Germany has agreed to send 50 anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine to aid its fight against Russia, Berlin's defense ministry said, as the European Country continues to distance itself from its former anti-militarization policies.
Berlin for decades has maintained a strong stance against investing in its military and providing military assistance to other nations stemming from its involvement from the Second World War.
However, Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 marked a "turning point" for Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.
Since the invasion, Germany has announced lethal weapons for Ukraine and an historic expansion to the country's defense spending of more than 2% of its gross domestic product.
However, Germany has since come under criticism for not giving more to Ukraine nor heeding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's call for heavy weapons.
On Tuesday, German Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht announced Berlin would deliver 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks from its stock to Ukraine.
"This is exactly what Ukraine needs now," she said at a press conference.
The tanks with their two 35-mm machine gun canons were one of two pillars of the Germany army's anti-aircraft force before it was dissolved in 2010, according to the German air force.
Lambrecht announced her government had approved the delivery of the tanks on the sidelines of a meeting of more than 40 nations at the U.S. military's Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that he thinks "those systems will provide real capability for Ukraine."
Asked what else Germany could do to help Ukraine, Austin said that's up to the German government to decide but based on Lambrecht's actions so far he is confident "she'll continue to look for ways to be relevant and provide good capability to the Ukrainians as they continue to prosecute this fight."