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24 Jan, 2024 07:39

Germany issues Ukraine support warning

The country’s finance minister has insisted that costs should be fairly split between EU members
Germany issues Ukraine support warning

Germany cannot sustain Ukraine’s defense costs on its own and other EU members will need to ramp up their contributions, the country’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner has insisted.

The issue of cash for Ukraine has come to a head following a halt in US aid and Kiev’s increasing demands for arms, following its failed counteroffensive.

“It cannot be that Germany does more to help Ukraine so that others do less,” Lindner said at an event by the German Eastern Business Association on Tuesday.

Germany’s economy shrank by 0.3% last year, according to data published last week by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), increasing the risk of an economic contraction in the wider euro area.

The country has been gripped by continued major protests since early January, when farmers started blocking roads and highways after Berlin announced the slashing of agricultural subsidies not long after it detailed plans to almost double its support for Ukraine in 2024.

Last week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will shell out more than €7 billion ($7.6 billion) on military aid for Ukraine this year. Berlin provided Kiev with nearly $23 billion in aid between February 2022 and November 2023, according to the Kiel Institute for World Economy, making Germany the second-largest contributor after the US.

Scholz also called on the country’s “allies in the European Union to strengthen their efforts,” to fund Kiev's military, lamenting that some member states had been tight-fisted in their support of Ukraine. He nevertheless declared he was confident the bloc would agree to a €50 billion aid package for Ukraine at an upcoming emergency summit on February 1. 

Washington confirmed last week that its assistance had “ground to a halt” due to weeks of political bickering between Republicans and Democrats. A package worth $60 billion in weapons and military equipment for Kiev has been blocked by the GOP, who demand Biden first addresses mass illegal immigration before the aid package can go through.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has also expressed concern that donating too many weapons to Kiev would weaken Berlin’s own forces. Berlin must also “keep an eye on its own defense capabilities” meaning that it can’t go “all in” for Ukraine as some are demanding. “Otherwise we would be defenseless ourselves,” he warned.

Top Ukrainian officials have increasingly been pressuring their Western backers for yet more weaponry, in the aftermath of Kiev's counteroffensive failure. Russia has consistently criticized Western arms shipments to Ukraine, arguing that these prolong the bloodshed unnecessarily without changing the outcome of the conflict.