But Russia-Ukraine conflict causes news problems, ranging from political tension to prices
Germany will be forced to continue handing lucrative contracts to Russian and Ukrainian firms to transport its military hardware, according to Deutsche Welle referring to Bundestag MPs.
A joint contract with the Russian firm Volga Dnepr and the Ukrainian firm Antonov Design Bureau is due to run out at the end of the year, and will have to be renewed because Germany does not have its own large-scale military transport planes.
But the contract, leaked to public broadcaster ARD, will also have to be split in two because Ukraine is now engaged in a war with Russian-backed separatists in its eastern region.
Since 2004, the two companies had been working together under the name “Strategic Airlift Interim Solution” (SALIS) to supply logistics to a number of NATO countries. SALIS used the huge Soviet-era Antonov 124-100 transport planes, which can deliver 120 tons of freight over 4,800 kilometers.
An Antonov AN-124-100 giant caro transport jet stands at the Leipzig-Halle international airport March 23, 2006 in Leipzig, Germany (Getty Images)
Under the new contracts – agreed with ten partners, including Germany, France, Poland and Norway – Antonov planes will be contracted to fly some 1,600 flight hours in 2017, of which 1,080 will be for the German military.
But the rift between Russia and Ukraine has caused a new problem: the Ukrainian company is demanding a lot more money than the Russian counterpart, and according to some MPs on the Bundestag defense committee, the Defense Ministry cannot explain the discrepancy.
While the Antonov Design Bureau is to bill the German taxpayer 37,509 euros per flight hour, Volga Dnepr only wants 23,341 euros per flight hour, ARD reported.
But Rainer Arnold, Social Democrat representative on the same committee, said some circumstances make the discrepancy understandable.
“Of course, you have to see that these are two different partners, with different maneuvering spaces in their negotiations,” he told DW.
“And they have different foundations: the Ukrainians only operate seven planes, and so obviously they calculate differently from someone who has considerably more planes in their fleet.”
A spokesman for the Defense Ministry told DW that both prices offered were “completely normal” in comparison to others on the world market.