German parliament approves heavy weapons for Ukraine
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The Bundestag voted with a large majority for a motion put forward jointly by the three ruling coalition parties -- the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and liberal FDP -- and the opposition conservatives.
Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht had said on Tuesday that Germany would send Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, in a clear switch in Berlin's cautious policy on military backing for Kyiv.
In a debate before the vote, Britta Hasselmann, co-chair of the Green party's parliamentary group, said Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a "blatant" breach of international law and Ukraine had an "unrestricted right to self-defence".
FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Duerr also said it was "right" to approve both direct and indirect heavy arms deliveries.
But leader of the opposition CDU party, Friedrich Merz, on Thursday said it was not caution that was driving the chancellor. "It is hesitation, it is dithering, it is timidity," he said.
SPD co-leader Lars Klingbeil accused Merz of trying to use the conflict to boost his political standing. "There is no room for party-political posturing here," he said.