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UKRAINE

Germany calls for citizens in Ukraine to leave

Germany on Saturday advised German citizens without an "imperative" reason to stay in Ukraine to leave, saying a "military conflict cannot be excluded" after Washington warned a Russian invasion could begin "any day".

Germany calls for citizens in Ukraine to leave
Protestors in Kiev hold signs saying "Ukraine will resist!". Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP

“Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have again shot up in the last few days due to the massive movements of Russian military units near the Ukrainian border,” the German foreign ministry said.

“If you are currently in Ukraine, make sure that your presence is imperative. If that is not the case, please leave the country for the time being”.

Germany also said it was reducing its diplomatic representation in Ukraine. “We will keep our embassy open in Kyiv but reduce diplomatic staff,” said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during a visit to Egypt.

Belgium and the Netherlands joined Germany in becoming the latest Western countries to advise their citizens to leave Ukraine. Russia also announced that it had withdrawn some diplomatic staff fearing “provocations” from the West or Kyiv.

The US embassy in Kyiv on Saturday ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin was due to talk to US President Joe Biden and France’s Emmanuel Macron by telephone later on Saturday.

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POLITICS

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Germany's investments in defence in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will transform it into the biggest contributor to NATO in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Alongside the United States, Germany is “certainly making the largest contribution” to NATO, Scholz said in an interview with the ARD broadcaster.

Speaking at the close of a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies, Scholz said Germany was in the process of creating “the largest conventional army within the NATO framework in Europe”.

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Scholz announced a 100-billion-euro ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defences and offset decades of chronic underfunding.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Bundestag approves €100 billion fund to beef up defences

He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence, answering years of criticism from close allies that Berlin was failing to contribute enough to the alliance.

Russia’s invasion had led to a renewed conviction “that we should spend more money on defence”, Scholz said.

“We will spend an average of around 70 to 80 billion euros a year on defence over the next few years,” he said, meaning “Germany is the country that invests the most in this”.

Scholz’s announcement in February was seen as a major policy shift, upending Germany’s traditionally cautious approach to defence as a result of its post-war guilt.

Germany had steadily reduced the size of its army since the end of the Cold War from around 500,000 at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000.

NATO allies are from Tuesday gathering in Madrid for a summit, where the United States is expected to announce new long-term military deployments across Europe.

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