Germany Votes Down Taurus Cruise Missiles For Ukraine

Ukraine received bad news about the potential donation long-range air-launched cruise missiles from Germany today. Around the same time, Kyiv also got some welcome news regarding supply of similar missiles from France.

The German parliament overwhelmingly voted down a non-binding measure on delivering Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missiles to Ukraine on Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron, however, announced late Tuesday night that his country will deliver an additional 40 SCALP-EG cruise missiles.

By a vote of 485 to 178, with three abstentions, the German Bundestag voted against the motion to deliver the Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. It was introduced by the center-right opposition Christian Democratic Union, which for nearly a year has been pushing for Berlin to send these missiles to Kyiv.

A Taurus air-launched cruise missile. (MBDA photo)

Regardless of the vote, a final decision on Taurus deliveries to Ukraine will rest with the chair of Germany’s Federal Security Council, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Politico reported. Scholz, however, “has demurred in the past when pressed by lawmakers with similar motions for Taurus deliveries to Ukraine,” according to Politico. Today’s decision comes as France has provided SCALP-EGs and the U.K. has provided an undisclosed number of similar Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles to Ukraine for months.

In contrast to the Bundestag’s vote, Macron announced in a Tuesday night speech that France will deliver a new round of SCALP-EG cruise missiles to Ukraine, as well as “hundreds of bombs” and will visit Kyiv in February.

France, which first began discussing the delivery of SCALP-EG’s to Ukraine in May 2023, confirmed that decision in mid-July of that year. Images from a visit by President Volodymyr Zelensky to an Su-24 Fencer unit that fires the missiles confirmed its operational status in August 2023.

Ukraine MoD

In addition to promising more SCALP-EGs, Macron added that the French defense industry is also working within the framework of a “war economy” to boost production and supplies of equipment to Ukraine, in particular 155mm Caesar howitzers, Defense News reported.

“We will basically continue to help Ukraine in its needs – for training, to hold on to the front, and to defend its skies,” Macron said during his press conference. “With the deliveries I mentioned, with the agreements we’re finalizing.”

In the wake of Macron’s announcement, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry thanked the French. 

“We are grateful to our French partners for their unwavering support and significant reinforcement of the Ukrainian Air Force. Merci Beaucoup!”

For Ukraine, the supply of these weapons is a vital need. Even though the SCALP-EG’s have been modified to limit their range to 250 km (about 155 miles), they have, along with the nearly identical Storm Shadows, been used to devastating effect far behind the front lines. Especially on targets in Crimea, as we have written about frequently.

New satellite imagery offers a clearer look at the full aftermath of a Ukrainian missile strike on the port of Feodosia in Crimea.
Satellite imagery offers a clearer look at the full aftermath of a December 2023 Ukrainian cruise missile strike on the port of Feodosia in Crimea. Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies

It is unknown, however, how many SCALP-EGs or Storm Shadows the Ukrainians still have on hand.

Kyiv has also received a limited amount of Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS from the U.S. Ukrainian forces first began using older ATCAMS variants – with a range of about 102 miles – to great effect in October. While Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oskana Markarova told the the 2023 Military Reporters and Editors conference in October that her country could get newer, longer-range versions this year that can hit targets up to 186 miles away, that has yet to happen. It remains unclear if it ever will.

With Ukraine’s counteroffensive largely ground to a halt, and Russia continuing to make small advances in Kharkiv Oblast, Kyiv’s greatest success have come with long-range strikes on Crimea and other locales deep behind the front line, many of which have been carried out by the donated cruise missiles. Not only have they provided tactical value, but imagery of vessels and facilities destroyed by these munitions have proven a huge morale boost to a nation struggling with a Russian invasion heading toward a third year with no end in sight.

It is possible that Macron’s announcement of additional SCALP-EG’s will put new pressure on Germany to respond in kind with the Taurus. There are reportedly efforts underway to reintroduce a vote on the the missile.

Germany's legislature voted against a measure to provide Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine.
A Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile. SKopp via Wikimedia SKopp via Wikimedia

“Leading supporters of the ruling parties which favor a Taurus delivery to Ukraine announced immediately after the vote in the Bundestag that the ruling parties want to submit their proposal by February, which would include the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine,” said the German Aid To Ukraine group, a private project monitoring Berlin’s arms provisions to Kyiv.

Whether that happens is yet to be known, but today’s vote is not a good indication of its chances.

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Howard Altman Avatar

Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.