Steinmeier promises Ukraine ‘full support’

In advance of a Berlin visit by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he will offer him 'full support' as well as remind him of his responsibilities.

Steinmeier promises Ukraine 'full support'
Petro Poroshenko and Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier said the situation in Ukraine was was still “fragile.”

“We can't be complacent. We must use all our resources to stabilise what has so far been achieved and to enter into the political process which was laid out in the Minsk accords.”
But, he said that it must undertake reforms to tackle widespread corruption and to overhaul the state bureaucracy.

According to the accords, signed in February at a summit between France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia, all prisoners of war are to be exchanged and heavy weaponry must be withdraw from the front lines.

Each side accuses the other of breaking the terms of the ceasefire.

In Berlin, Poroshenko is set to meet German President, Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel. Talks are to centre on the urgent economic situation in Ukraine.

Steinmeier described a loan of over €4.7 billion given to Ukraine by the International Monetary Fund as having given the country “breathing space.”

“Now there is time for reform and economic and social stabilization of the country,” the Foreign Minister said.

Poroshenko has demanded that the European Union maintain its sanctions against Moscow at least until the end of the year.

In an interview with Bild, the Ukrianian President said that without the sanctions, the Russian backed separatists in the east of his country would neither respect the ceasefire nor withdraw their heavy weaponry from the front lines.

Poroshenko also called for the German government to provide more military technology including drones, radar reconnaissance and night vision goggles.

The visit coincides with the one-year anniversary of the referendum in Crimea after which Russia took control of the peninsula.

Western countries view the move as a violation of international law and responded by imposing a series of sanctions on Russia in the summer of 2014.

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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.