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UKRAINE

Germany has ‘reached limit’ on arms shipments to Ukraine, defence minister admits

Germany has almost exhausted its ability to supply Ukraine with weapons from its army reserves, but is working on direct deliveries from the arms industry, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said Saturday. 

Germany has 'reached limit' on arms shipments to Ukraine, defence minister admits
Marder tanks used by the Bundeswehr during training in Letzlingen in 2921. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

“For deliveries coming from the Bundeswehr’s stocks, I have to say honestly that we have reached a limit,” she told German daily Augsburger Allgemeine. 

The German army must maintain its capacity to act and be able to “guarantee the defence of the country and the (NATO) alliance”, she added. 

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t do more for Ukraine, that’s why we have clarified what the industry can provide directly” to Kyiv, Lambrecht said. 

Berlin is “continuously consulting with Ukraine on this subject”. 

Until the Russian invasion on February 24, Germany had been reluctant for historical reasons to send weapons to Ukraine, which had been demanding them in the face of rising tensions with Moscow. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz then made a U-turn and Ukrainian forces have already received anti-tank weapons, missile launchers and surface-to-air missiles from Berlin. 

But the conflict in Ukraine has also cast a spotlight on the “alarming” state of the Bundeswehr, according to the Bundestag’s defence commissioner, Eva Hoegl, while one of the top brass spoke of an army “more or less dry”. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday urged NATO members to quickly supply him with more military equipment, including heavy weapons. 

“It is clear that Germany can do more, given its reservations,” he said. 

The Ukrainians have asked Berlin to supply 100 Marder armoured vehicles. 

The Bundeswehr has such vehicles manufactured by the German firm Rheinmetall. 

Rheinmetall could quickly prepare around 20 armoured vehicles, currently undergoing maintenance, for Ukrainian forces, company boss Armin Papperger told Spiegel this week. 

According to German media, the question of such a delivery is being debated by government security experts because it raises questions of technical feasibility, logistical delays and the maintenance of the German arsenal. 

Germany will this year significantly increase its military spending and create an exceptional fund of 100 billion euros ($110 billion) to modernise its army with the aim of reaching the two percent of GDP recommended by NATO. 

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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