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Just one in seven Germans trusts Russia

A new poll showed on Friday that only 15 percent of Germans think Russia is a trustworthy partner in international affairs.

Just one in seven Germans trusts Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Meanwhile, 81 percent told pollsters in the latest ARD Deutschlandtrend survey that Russia was “not to be trusted”, Die Zeit reported on Friday.

Asked specifically about the Minsk ceasefire agreement for Ukraine, hammered out with President Vladimir Putin of Russia by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of France and Ukraine, only 13 percent of people thought it would lead to peace.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Russia will conduct large-scale military exercises expected to last over a month in disputed border territories, including the Crimean peninsula – a part of Ukraine annexed by Moscow last year.

Russia to dominate EU meeting

The news came as Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier jets to Latvian capital Riga for a meeting of European foreign ministers starting on Friday.

Representatives of the 28 EU members will discuss reform plans for the Ukrainian government, which are a precondition for European financial aid.

But Europe's wider relationship with Russia, widely believed to be supporting east Ukrainian rebels with weapons, equipment and even disguised troops, will be lurking in the background.

On Saturday, the ministers will discuss EU partnership agreements – the same issue which touched off Russian anger over Ukraine – with Georgia and Moldova, two countries Putin sees as part of his own sphere of influence.

Some of the troops involved in Russia's current exercises are based in Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, the focus of a brief war between the two countries in 2008.

SEE ALSO: Leaders warn Russia to honour Ukraine pact

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UKRAINE

Scholz rejects ‘slanderous’ criticism of his party’s Russia policy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday hit back against accusations his centre-left Social Democrats have been too lenient towards Russia, as critics accuse Berlin of dragging its feet on deliveries of heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Scholz rejects 'slanderous' criticism of his party's Russia policy

Opponents have confronted his Social Democratic Party (SPD) with a “distorted and slanderous depiction” of its Russia policy since the Second World War, Scholz said in an interview with German weekly Spiegel.

“That annoys me,” he said, adding that the SPD was “bound into the Western and transatlantic alliance”.

Germany said Thursday it had reached an agreement with eastern European partners to supply Ukraine with a new batch of heavy weapons “in the next few days”.

READ ALSO: ‘Too little, too late’: Scholz under fire for inaction on Ukraine

Germany has come under fire for refusing to directly send heavy weapons to Ukraine, even as allies such as the United States, Britain, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands up their deliveries.

Much of the criticism has been directed at Scholz, who has faced pressure even from his two junior coalition partners to take tougher action.

But the government has said that after decades of chronic underinvestment, the German army, called the Bundeswehr, is simply not in a position to send the weapons Ukraine wants.

The potential to send arms to Ukraine from the stocks of the Bundeswehr had been “largely exhausted”, Scholz said in the interview.

“What is still available will absolutely still be delivered,” Scholz said, naming anti-tank weapons and artillery munitions.

Other senior SPD members have faced mounting scrutiny since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who is a lobbyist for Russian gas and has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

READ ALSO: Scholz ‘irritated’ by Kyiv’s snub to German president

And German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently said his offer to travel to Ukraine in a show of solidarity had been rejected by Kyiv.

Steinmeier, a former SPD foreign minister, for years advocated a policy of detente towards Moscow with a strong focus on commercial ties.

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