Published On: Fri, Mar 15th, 2024

What are Taurus missiles? As Olaf Scholz ‘draws line in sand’ over sending weapon to Kyiv | World | News

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told German lawmakers on Wednesday that he would continue to refuse to arm Ukraine with long-range Taurus missiles, branding it a “line in the sand”.

This comes against a backdrop of European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, ramping up the rhetoric as well as the meaningful action.

In a bullish statement, aimed at Scholz, the French leader said on March 5: “Europe clearly faces a moment when it will be necessary not to be cowards”.

In a separate TV interview on Thursday, Macron refused to withdraw the possibility of western troops being deployed to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, other European leaders have delivered hardware as well as tough talk. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told the Munich Security Conference in February that her country was sending its “entire artillery” to Ukraine and in the last week Poland has landed multi-billion-dollar deals with the US for air-to-air and air-to-surface missile systems.

However, despite all this, the German leader is standing firm over providing Taurus missiles to President Zelensky’s forces. But what are Taurus missiles and why isn’t the domestically embattled Scholz falling in line with his NATO counterparts?

The missile system, made by German company Taurus, is very similar to weapons supplied to Ukraine by the UK and French. Both the Storm Shadow sent to Kyiv by London and the Scalp-EG by Paris are roughly the same weight and length as the Taurus.

However, the Taurus’ trump card is that, unlike its Anglo-French counterparts, it has an intelligent warhead system called Mephisto. Mephisto means that the missile doesn’t blow up at a specific time, like a conventional weapon. Instead, it can be programmed to penetrate several layers of defence and detonate on exactly the right element of the target to ensure maximum damage.

Incredibly, the warhead’s fuse can detect different materials as well as internal spaces, meaning that it can obliterate bunkers as well as bridges and other infrastructure.

Scholz is reported to be unwilling to arm Ukraine with the top spec weapon, over fears that devastating strikes on the Russian mainland and the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea with Krasnodar Krai.

He told lawmakers: “From my point of view, this is a very long-range weapon. Given the significance of not losing control over targets, this weapon could not be used without the deployment of German soldiers.”

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