World

France and Germany evaded arms embargo to sell weapons to Russia

France and Germany armed Russia with €273 million (£230 million) of military hardware now likely being used in Ukraine, an EU analysis shared with The Telegraph has revealed.

They sent equipment, which included bombs, rockets, missiles and guns, to Moscow despite an EU-wide embargo on arms shipments to Russia, introduced in the wake of its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The European Commission was this month forced to close a loophole in its blockade after it was found that at least 10 member states exported almost €350 million (£294 million) in hardware to Vladimir Putin’s regime. Some 78 per cent of that total was supplied by German and French firms.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, has faced fierce criticism this week for his reluctance to provide heavy weapons to Ukraine. Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to negotiate with Putin have seen the French president accused of appeasement.

Both Paris and Berlin have resisted an EU ban on buying gas from Russia, with the bloc currently paying Moscow €1 billion (£840 million) per day for energy supplies.

The EU report emerged as a top Russian commander said Moscow had expanded its goals to take “full control” of southern Ukraine, as well as the eastern Donbas region.

Russian forces would create a land bridge to Crimea and could push as far as the border of Moldova, said Major General Rustam Minnekayev, the deputy commander of the Russian central military district.

In New Delhi, Boris Johnson on Friday warned that Russia could still win the war, announcing plans to send British tanks to Poland so that Ukraine could receive Warsaw’s Soviet-era T-72 models.

Asked if Russia could win the war in Ukraine, the Prime Minister conceded it was a “realistic possibility” and that Moscow was very close to seizing Mariupol.

On Friday, Putin told Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, that the marines holed up in the city’s Azovstal steel plant would be allowed to live if they surrendered.

Meanwhile, Mr Scholz pointed to the threat of nuclear war as he sought to answer critics over Berlin’s reluctance to provide Ukraine with high-powered arms.

Criticism increased when it emerged that German firms had used a loophole in an EU embargo on arms exports to Russia, making sales worth €121 million (£107 million) of “dual-use” equipment, including rifles and special protection vehicles, to Moscow.

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