Ukraine’s foreign minister has accused Germany of undermining unity among the country’s allies and “encouraging” Vladimir Putin by refusing to deliver weapons to Kiev.
Earlier on Saturday, Germany’s defense minister said Berlin would set up a field hospital in Ukraine amid the security crisis between the West and Russia. But Christine Lambrecht said sending military aid now would not help “defuse the crisis”.
“Today, the West’s unity with Russia is more important than ever. To achieve this and deter the Russian Federation, we are all working together,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. replied via Twitter.
“The German partners must stop such words and actions to undermine unity and encourage Vladimir Putin to a new attack on Ukraine.”
The Ukrainian foreign minister added that Kyiv was grateful to Germany for its support and diplomatic efforts in recent years. “But Germany’s current statements are disappointing and run counter to this support and effort,” he added.
The United States, United Kingdom and the Baltic states have pledged to send weapons to Ukraine to meet the military threat from Russia, which has amassed around 100,000 troops along the border.
Washington announced the first delivery of “lethal aid” in Kiev on Friday evening.
Moscow denies plans to invade Ukraine, but is demanding security guarantees from the United States and NATO, including a permanent ban on Ukraine joining the Western military alliance.
Dispute over Navy chief’s comments
Also on Saturday, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador to object to a video in which the head of the German navy said that Ukraine would not return to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia has annexed in 2014.
Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach was also called home to explain comments in the video criticizing NATO allies’ views of Vladimir Putin’s intentions regarding Ukraine, the German Defense Ministry said.
What the Russian president wants “is to be respected,” Schönbach said during a meeting in New Delhi on Friday, a video of which has circulated online.
“It’s easy to give him the respect he wants, and probably also deserves,” the navy chief added, calling “absurdity” the idea that Russia wants to invade part of the Ukraine.
These statements “do not at all correspond to the position of the German Ministry of Defense”, a spokesman told AFP.
Weapons ‘would not help defuse crisis’, German minister says
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the field hospital will be delivered in February, with training for staff, at a cost to Germany of 5.3 million euros.
“We have already provided ventilators,” the minister said, adding that Germany was already treating seriously injured Ukrainian soldiers in German hospitals in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“So we stand with Kiev. Now we have to do what we can to defuse the crisis,” Lambrecht said. However, “the delivery of arms would not currently contribute” to achieving such a goal, she added.
This position formed a “consensus within the federal government” led by Olaf Scholz, the defense minister said.
Germany’s refusal to send arms to Ukraine contrasts with the positions of the United Kingdom, Poland and the Baltic States. The defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania issued a statement saying they had received US approval to send Stinger air defense missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles to bolster Kyiv’s defenses .
Lambrecht described as a “red line” for NATO the right of each sovereign state to decide whether or not to join the Western military alliance, saying Russia had no veto. But the West was ready to engage with Moscow and take Russian interests into account, she said.
Germany warns Russia about Mali
The German Defense Minister also issued a warning to Russia regarding Mali, saying that the arrival of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group “will have consequences”.
The West believes that several hundred Russian mercenaries have been deployed in the central and northern parts of the West African country, where Germany has around a thousand troops stationed as part of the peacekeeping mission. United Nations peace MINUSMA.
“Moscow will not succeed, by sending mercenaries, in persuading the West to withdraw almost automatically wherever Russia does not want to see us. We will not back down, we will not make it so easy for the Russians,” he said. Christine Lambrecht.
Russia denies that its government is linked to the Wagner Group, whose activities in several countries have sparked controversy. But the unit has been linked to a businessman close to Vladimir Putin.
Lambrecht also appealed to Mali’s military junta to ensure conditions were right if it wanted Germany to maintain its presence in the country. Bamako this week refused permission for a German army plane to fly over its territory en route to Niamey, the capital of Niger.
Mali is at the center of an Islamist insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and later spread to neighboring countries.