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UKRAINE

Germany’s defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday, her first since Russia's invasion in February, as Kyiv urges Berlin to send it battle tanks.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht addresses guests during the annual conference of the German Armed Forces Bundeswehr in Berlin on September 16, 2022. Lambrecht made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday. Photo: JENS SCHLUETER / AFP

Lambrecht visited the southern port city of Odessa, the German defence ministry said in a statement, without saying how long the trip had lasted. It added on Twitter that she had met her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

So far, no NATO country has supplied Western battle tanks to Kyiv.

Ukraine has repeatedly sought Leopard battle tanks from Germany to aid in its counter-attack against Russia, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused.

Scholz has said he doesn’t want to go it alone on arms supplies and will only take decisions in consultation with his Western allies.

Lambrecht reiterated this stance in Odessa: “We will always confer with our partners about what Ukraine needs,” she said.

“From my impressions today, air defence and artillery are currently at the forefront,” she told public broadcaster ARD.

She added that she had seen how the “populations were tormented by drones”.

Lambrecht’s visit came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

These annexations have been unanimously condemned by Ukraine’s allies.

“Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums” in the four regions, Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Wednesday, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Scholz travelled to Ukraine in June, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has visited Kyiv twice.

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UKRAINE

Germany recognises Stalin famine in Ukraine as ‘genocide’

German lawmakers on Wednesday approved a resolution declaring as "genocide" the 1930s starvation of millions in Ukraine under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, adopting language used by Kyiv.

Germany recognises Stalin famine in Ukraine as 'genocide'

The joint text passed by members of parliament from Germany’s centre-left-led coalition and the opposition conservatives is intended as a “warning” to Russia as Ukraine faces a potential hunger crisis this winter due to Moscow’s invasion.

Only the extreme right and left-wing parties abstained from voting on the resolution in the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag.

“I thank the Bundestag for this historic decision,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted on Wednesday. “The truth always wins.”

The 1932-33 “Holodomor” — Ukrainian for “death by starvation” — is regarded by Kyiv as a deliberate act of genocide by Stalin’s regime with the intention of wiping out the peasantry.

Stalin’s campaign of forced “collectivisation” seized grain and other foodstuffs and left millions to starve.

The Holodomor has long been a major sticking point in ties between Russia and Ukraine.

Moscow rejects Kyiv’s account, placing the events in the broader context of famines that devastated regions of Central Asia and Russia.

The current conflict has fuelled fears that history may repeat itself. Russia’s targeting of grain storage facilities and its blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea exports have sparked accusations that Moscow is again using food as a weapon of war.

Robin Wagener of Germany’s Green party, one of the resolution’s initiators, said Russian President Vladimir Putin operated “in the cruel and criminal tradition of Stalin”.

“Once more, the basis for life in Ukraine is meant to be taken away through violence and terror, and the entire country brought to heel,” he told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Wagener said calling Holodomor a genocide was intended as a “message of warning” to Moscow.

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