German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came under harsh criticism after suggesting that UK and French troops having been deployed in Ukraine to assist the latter with firing the long-range missiles they have supplied.

While explaining Berlin’s reluctance to provide Kyiv with its Taurus long-range missiles on Monday, Feb. 26, Scholz said it was due to the necessity for German boots to be on the ground to assist with target control, suggesting the British and French already have missile-savvy personnel in Ukraine.

“What is being done in the way of target control and accompanying target control on the part of the British and the French can’t be done in Germany. Everyone who has dealt with this system knows that,” said Scholz, as reported by AP News.

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“In my view, it would be unjustifiable if we were to participate in targeting in the same way,” he added without further elaboration.

Former UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who was in office when the UK provided Ukraine with its first Storm Shadow long-range missiles, said Scholz’s suggestion was “not only a dangerous use of facts but also often wrong facts.”

“Scholz’s behavior has shown that as far as the security of Europe goes, he is the wrong man, in the wrong job at the wrong time,” Wallace told The Standard.

Tobias Ellwood, the former chairman of the UK House of Commons Defence Committee, has called Scholz’s comments a “flagrant abuse of intelligence deliberately designed to distract from Germany’s reluctance to arm Ukraine with its own long-range missile system,” adding that Moscow will likely use Scholz’s comments to “ratchet up the escalator ladder.”

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The British Ministry of Defence did not confirm British troops’ potential involvement  Scholz suggested, but in a statement to AFP it said: “Ukraine’s use of Storm Shadow and its targeting processes are the business of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman on Tuesday told reporters that the UK has “a small number of personnel in country supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including for medical training.”

London first provided Kyiv with its Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles in May 2023, and Paris later followed suit with its SCALP variants.

The missiles were used to great effect against Russian targets, and it was believed that they were behind the killing of a high-ranking Russian general in occupied Berdyansk and multiple strikes on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and its infrastructure.

There have been questions as to how Ukraine was able to equip the NATO-standard missiles to Soviet-standard Su-24 tactical bombers. Some have suspected a Frankenstein approach of reusing weapons pylons from decommissioned NATO aircraft to achieve the desired effect.

Some have also raised the question then as to how the coordinates were entered into the system, with speculation that they must be entered pre-flight as Soviet avionics is incompatible with the Storm Shadow missiles.

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