Western weapons of the Ukrainian armed forces are to be repaired in the Slovak maintenance center in Michalovce. However, the government in Bratislava is of the opinion that customs duties must be paid for imports from Ukraine. However, there is hope for a resolution to the dispute.
According to a media report, a customs dispute with Slovakia has been leading to considerable delays in the repair of rocket launchers and self-propelled howitzers that were delivered to Ukraine and used in the war against Russia. As the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reports, several MARS rocket launchers stood for weeks on the Ukrainian-Slovakian border and finally had to be transported to Germany via Poland. They were missing from Ukraine because of the detour of more than 2000 kilometers longer than planned.
According to the report, Slovakia interprets the European customs regulations in such a way that customs duties have to be paid for imports from the non-EU country Ukraine, repairs in the EU country Slovakia and return to Ukraine, since the repair and new parts cause a refinement takes place. Therefore, large sums of money would be involved, since the maintenance center in Michalovce, which is operated by the armaments company KNDS but financed by the federal government, is also supposed to service Cheetah anti-aircraft, Marder rifle and Leopard battle tanks delivered from Germany.
According to information from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, after a conversation between Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and his Slovakian counterpart, there is now hope for a solution: A Slovakian armaments company is said to be involved to handle the transport of the weapons and take care of the customs formalities. However, KNDS and the company Konštrukta would probably still have to conclude a contract.
This is intended to define the customs exemptions for this special case in times of war, according to government circles. The establishment of the maintenance center in Michalovce, 35 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, was announced by Pistorius’ predecessor Christine Lambrecht. “We have reached an agreement and work can begin immediately so that all the equipment that was delivered can also be repaired,” Lambrecht said hopefully in mid-November.