Von der Leyen Rebukes German Indecision In Ukraine: ‘Given Them All The Weapons Needed’

Russia is said to be angered Thursday after European Commision president Ursula von der Leyen went to Kiev to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since Ukraine was given EU candidate status in June  – something which she hailed during remarks.

“So much has changed. Ukraine is now an EU candidate,” she said in a social media post. It was her third trip overall to the war-ravaged country since the invasion began in February. “I’ll discuss with (President Volodymyr) Zelensky and (Prime Minister) Denys Shmygal how to continue getting our economies and people closer while Ukraine progresses towards accession,” she had described headed into talks.

Image: DPA/Picture alliance

“The accession process is well on track. It’s impressive to speed, the determination, the preciseness with which you are progressing,” von der Leyen told a press briefing. And yet other leaders like French president Emmanuel Macron have said it’s likely to take years or even “decades” before Ukraine is admitted as a member.

“We have earmarked already 150 million euros to make sure that the internally displaced people here in Ukraine have shelter,” she said of discussions focused on Ukrainian refugees headed into winter.

Von der Leyen had told the European Parliament recently before heading to the Ukrainian capital, “I want to make it very clear, the sanctions are here to stay” – this following successive waves of European sanctions. She also in perhaps the most provocative statement called for Vladimir Putin to be brought before an international criminal court for war crimes during this latest Ukraine trip.

During Thursday comments to the media, she called for Western countries to provide Ukraine with all the defense aid it’s asking for amid the much touted counteroffensive in the east and south, saying, “Ukraine should get all the military material they need,” according to Bloomberg.

This appeared to be an open rebuke of German fence-sitting, also as segments of the population have protested against Berlin getting more deeply involved in the Ukraine conflict amid the Russian gas and energy cut-off, as one European outlet summarized of the dilemma

Germany’s foreign minister is urging Chancellor Olaf Scholz to decide on whether it will supply Ukraine with more tanks.

In an interview with the daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published on Thursday, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that, while such a decision could only be taken jointly by Germany’s governing three-party coalition and its international partners, it would have to be made swiftly.

“In the decisive phase that Ukraine currently finds itself, I also don’t believe that it’s a decision which can be delayed for long,” she was quoted as saying.

…Kyiv has said it would like to get German Leopard-2 tanks, but Berlin has so far rebuffed that request while providing other arms, including howitzers and self-propelled anti-aircraft weapons.

Scholz has still said that weapons already provided by Germany have been “decisive” in Ukraine’s regaining vast territory in Kharkiv Oblast. But Berlin has still come under fierce criticism this week, particularly from Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

“Disappointing signals from Germany while Ukraine needs Leopards and Marders now — to liberate people and save them from genocide,” Kuleba tweeted, and bluntly stated, “Not a single rational argument on why these weapons cannot be supplied, only abstract fears and excuses. What is Berlin afraid of that Kyiv is not?

Meanwhile, there are early reports the Biden administration is preparing yet another “$600 million or so” for defense aid for Ukraine, according to a Bloomberg correspondent.

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