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UKRAINE

Germany set to shut airspace to Russian planes on Sunday

Germany on Sunday said it would close its airspace to Russian planes, joining other European countries in ramping up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Germany set to shut airspace to Russian planes on Sunday
The Russian presidential plane Iljuschin Il-96. Spain has moved to close its airspace off to Russian aircraft. (Photo by PIERRE ALBOUY / AFP)

Germany will impose a three-month ban on all Russian flights from its airspace from 3pm Germany time on Sunday, the Transport Ministry said.

The authorities are tightening the screws on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

“In a Notice to Air Missions, the transport ministry has imposed a flight ban for Russian aircraft and aircraft operators in and over German airspace,” said the ministry, adding that order was valid for three months.

Only humanitarian flights will be exempt.

EXPLAINED: How the Ukraine crisis could impact Germany

Germany joins other European countries in ramping up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Already a number of other countries – such as Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Poland – have closed their airspace to Russian flights, forcing westbound Russian planes to make enormous diversions.

EU leaders will meet again later today to discuss the latest package of sanctions against Russia.

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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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