A member of the Ukrainian military forces walks in a frontline trench with Russian-backed separatists near Avdiivka, in Donetsk, southeastern Ukraine, January 9, 2022. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Pictures/TNS)
Berlin – Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has strongly supported Germany’s refusal to send arms to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russian aggression on its border.
Germany’s reluctance to join other NATO members, such as the United States, Britain and the Baltics, has raised eyebrows among allies and frustrated the pro-Western government in Kiev.
Olaf Scholz’s new centre-left government said it was working to defuse the crisis but ruled out sending lethal weapons, a stance also taken by Angela Merkel’s former government.
Making a 180-degree turn on this issue should only be done “with full awareness and above all without closing the doors that have only just reopened at the moment,” Baerbock told Bundestag lawmakers on Thursday.
“He who speaks does not shoot. It is therefore fatal to simply reject the resumption of dialogue,” she said, apparently referring to new exchanges between Washington and Moscow, as well as talks by Ukrainian and Russian political advisers in Paris on Wednesday.
Baerbock said Germany stands behind Ukraine’s military, pointing to Berlin’s announcement on Wednesday to send 5,000 combat helmets to the country.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin called the helmets “a purely symbolic gesture”.
Baerbock also said the German government was working on a “tough sanctions package”, and said a range of responses to any Russian aggression included Nord Stream 2, referring to the controversial pipeline to bring Russian gas to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.
The pipeline, which has been completed but is not yet operational, is a source of contention as Ukraine is heavily dependent on gas transit fees. Meanwhile, Washington has criticized it for increasing Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow.
Baerbock also said Berlin works steadily to strengthen Ukraine economically and financially.
However, future Christian Democrat opposition leader Friedrich Merz accused Scholz of lacking commitment on the issue.
“War threatens in a part of our continent that was hit by the crimes of World War II in a particularly brutal way,” Merz said, adding that the threat was entirely due to Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin.
“The people of our country now expect you to give a clear assessment of the situation from your point of view in the German parliament and, above all, to point out the consequences of this for Germany and for Europe,” he said. said Merz, in comments. addressed to the Chancellor.
In recent weeks, Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, raising fears it is preparing for an invasion. Russia denies any such project.
Others argue that Moscow’s deployment is tied to demands for NATO security assurances that the defense alliance should not admit Ukraine or expand further east.
Extensive diplomatic efforts failed to defuse the crisis.
Most Germans support the government’s stance on arms deliveries to Ukraine, a survey finds.
According to a YouGov poll, some 59% of the population supports Berlin’s decision not to send arms to Ukraine. Meanwhile, 20% were in favor of sending arms, while 21% took no position.
However, most Germans say the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should start operations, according to a poll.
Some 47% of respondents said they were in favor of the pipeline, while 33% opposed it. Respondents were split on whether sanctions should involve the pipeline.
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