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UKRAINE

Germany to provide over 1 billion euros’ military aid to Ukraine

The German government on Friday said it plans to release more than a billion euros in military aid for Ukraine, amid complaints by Kyiv it is not receiving heavy weapons from Berlin.

A Ukrainian serviceman stands guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barvinkove, eastern Ukraine
A Ukrainian serviceman stands guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barvinkove, eastern Ukraine, on April 15, 2022. RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

The funds will feature in a supplementary budget for this year.

In total, taking into account all countries, Berlin has decided to increase its international aid in the defence sector “to two billion euros” with “the largest part being planned in the form of military aid in favour of Ukraine”, a government spokeswoman told AFP.

This envelope of two billion euros “will go mainly to Ukraine”, Finance Minister Christian Lindner confirmed on Twitter.

The funds must be used by Ukraine to mainly finance purchases of military equipment.

The move follows growing criticism from Ukraine, and some EU partners such as Poland and the Baltic States, of an apparent lack of support in terms of armaments to Kyiv.

Diplomatic feathers were ruffled earlier in the week after Kyiv rejected a proposed visit by Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former foreign minister who recently acknowledged “errors” in a too conciliatory
stance toward Moscow in the past.

The Ukrainian presidency instead said it wanted to welcome Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Kyiv, but the chancellor indicated he had no plans to visit any time soon.

READ ALSO: Pressure grows on Scholz as German delegation visits Ukraine

The spat came as Scholz faced pressure to step up support for Ukraine.

He has come under fire at home for his hesitancy over sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, despite his dramatic U-turn on Germany’s defence policy prompted by Russia’s invasion.

Following visits to Kyiv by several other world leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, critics asked why Scholz himself was not making the trip.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, said a Scholz trip to Kyiv would send a “strong signal”, while the opposition CDU has urged him to “get an idea of the situation on the ground”.

Even a member of Scholz’s ruling coalition, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, of the liberal FDP, suggested in an interview with the business daily Handelsblatt on Monday that Scholz should “start using his powers of direction
and leadership”.

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GERMANY AND RUSSIA

Germany will ‘never recognise’ Russia’s ‘sham’ votes in Ukraine, says Scholz

Germany will not accept the results of the annexation votes organised by Moscow in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call on Wednesday.

Germany will 'never recognise' Russia's 'sham' votes in Ukraine, says Scholz

“Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums” in the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Scholz told Zelensky, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Kremlin-installed authorities in the four Ukrainian regions under Russian control on Tuesday claimed victory in the votes, saying that preliminary results show a majority in favour of being annexed by Moscow.

Scholz and Zelensky discussed “possibilities for further support” from Germany, including the reconstruction of Ukraine, Hebestreit said in a read-out of the phone call.

Scholz stressed that Germany would not “relent in its concrete political, financial and humanitarian support for Ukraine, as well as the defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including arms supplies”, Hebestreit said.

Scholz has come under increasing pressure domestically and from abroad to boost German weapons supplies to Ukraine.

While Germany has provided Kyiv’s forces with armaments such as rockets and anti-aircraft tanks, it has so far declined a request to provide Ukraine with Western-made battle tanks and infantry-fighting vehicles.

Ukraine has said the best response to the annexation votes would be to increase sanctions against Russia and deliver more weapons to sustain its fight-back.

“Ukraine calls on the EU, NATO and the Group of Seven to immediately and significantly increase pressure on Russia, including by imposing tough sanctions and significantly increase their military aid to Ukraine,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

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