Germany plans new arms exports rules, easier exports to Ukraine - Der Spiegel

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany, the world's fifth-largest arms exporter, plans to revise its rules on arms exports to make it easier to arm democracies like Ukraine and harder to sell weapons to autocracies, Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

The new guidelines, which the magazine said were being drawn up by the Economy Ministry, come as Germany faces criticism from the opposition, allies and Kyiv over delays in supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine for its fight against Russia.

The magazine said the new guidelines, which are due to be incorporated into a new arms exports law, will focus on the receiving country's concrete actions in domestic and foreign policy, not on the broader question of whether those weapons might be used to violate human rights.

Agnieszka Brugger, deputy parliamentary leader of the Greens, which control the Economy and Foreign Ministries in the government coalition, told Der Spiegel said this would lead to countries that shared "peaceful, Western values" being treated less restrictively.

"We have to end the security policy stupidity of rewarding aggressive autocrats and human rights violators with German weapons," she said.

The Economy Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Germany has been among the largest suppliers of weapons to Ukraine since Russia invaded at the end of February, but it has been criticised for its slowness to supply the heavy weaponry Kyiv says it needs to turn the tide of the battle.

The country's arms industry is well-known for its submarines, battle tanks, anti-aircraft weaponry and handguns. Major buyers of German weapons include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt, Editing by Miranda Murray and Alison Williams)