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POLITICS

SPD heavyweights reportedly plotting to sideline Beck

Amid a growing revolt against his leadership, top members of Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) are reportedly planning to keep chairman Kurt Beck from becoming the party’s candidate for chancellor in 2009.

Concerned over the direction Beck is taking the party, several high-ranking SPD members – including German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück and former party bosses Matthias Platzeck and Franz Müntefering – are plotting to sideline him in the next general election in favour of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, according to weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

The reform-oriented wing of the SPD has been angered by Beck’s willingness to consider working together with the socialist Left Party, which has its roots in the East German communist party. The Left Party has begun making inroads in western Germany, complicating the Social Democrats’ efforts to challenge the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in both state and federal elections.

But SPD deputy leader Andrea Nahles warned against remaining blind to Germany’s changing political landscape. “The Left Party is a political reality, even in the west,” she told Der Spiegel. “Kurt Beck’s course is correct. I warn against turning a strategic decision into a debate over which way to go.”

UKRAINE

Germany’s defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday, her first since Russia's invasion in February, as Kyiv urges Berlin to send it battle tanks.

Germany's defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Lambrecht visited the southern port city of Odessa, the German defence ministry said in a statement, without saying how long the trip had lasted. It added on Twitter that she had met her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

So far, no NATO country has supplied Western battle tanks to Kyiv.

Ukraine has repeatedly sought Leopard battle tanks from Germany to aid in its counter-attack against Russia, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused.

Scholz has said he doesn’t want to go it alone on arms supplies and will only take decisions in consultation with his Western allies.

Lambrecht reiterated this stance in Odessa: “We will always confer with our partners about what Ukraine needs,” she said.

“From my impressions today, air defence and artillery are currently at the forefront,” she told public broadcaster ARD.

She added that she had seen how the “populations were tormented by drones”.

Lambrecht’s visit came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

These annexations have been unanimously condemned by Ukraine’s allies.

“Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums” in the four regions, Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Wednesday, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Scholz travelled to Ukraine in June, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has visited Kyiv twice.

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