Germany 'stands by Ukraine', minister says in surprise Kyiv visit

AFP , Monday 14 Aug 2023

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Monday his country stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Ukraine, as he visited Kyiv for the first time since the start of the war.

This handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Emergency Service on August 14, 2023, shows rescuers working in pushing out a fire in a supermarket after a night strike in Odesa on August 14, 2023, AFP


Lindner, whose trip was not announced in advance, said upon arrival that he would hold "very concrete" talks with Ukrainian officials on how the German finance ministry can support Ukraine now and in the future.

"We stand by Ukraine's side, shoulder to shoulder," Lindner told reporters.

Since Russia's invasion in February 2022, Germany has provided some 22 billion euros ($24 billion) to Ukraine in humanitarian, financial and military aid, Lindner said.

"Ukraine must not lose this war," the minister added.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal later wrote on the messaging app Telegram that he had had "an important meeting" with Lindner in Kyiv, and that he had thanked the German government for its support.

Lindner had stressed during the talks "that Germany will further support Ukraine, and our cooperation projects will be long term", according to Shmygal.

The two countries were already working on five investment projects worth around 247 million euros, and were looking at three more projects totalling more than 70 million euros, Shmygal added.

"We expect the participation of German business" in Ukraine's post-war rebuilding, he said.

"I emphasised that it is necessary to strengthen sanctions against the Russian Federation and confiscate Russian assets, which will be the main source of financing for reconstruction," Shmygal added.

Lindner's visit comes as Germany is under growing pressure from Ukraine to send long-range Taurus cruise missiles to boost its struggling counter-offensive against Russian troops.

The German government has so far resisted the pleas, on concerns that the missiles could reach Russian territory and widen the conflict.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told Germany's Bild newspaper that the Taurus missiles were "crucial" to Ukraine's fightback.

Seeking to ease concerns about the long reach of the weapons, Podolyak said they would be used "exclusively on the territory of Ukraine, within the internationally recognised borders of 1991".

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko added to the calls on Monday, saying he had told Lindner during their meeting in the capital that Ukraine was "in dire need of the necessary armaments".

"These are air defence systems and long-range weapons. And we count on the understanding of the situation by our partners, that it cannot be delayed," Klitschko said on Telegram.

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