Thursday, May 26

Germany to provide field hospital to Ukraine but rules out sending weapons

Germany will send a field hospital to Ukraine amid the security crisis between the West and Russia, the country’s defense minister said on Saturday, though he ruled out military aid for now.

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 Ukrainian soldiers seriously wounded in the conflict in eastern Ukraine in German hospitals.

“So we are next to Kiev. Now we must do what is in our power to defuse the crisis,” Lambrecht said. However, “arms surrender would not currently contribute” to achieving such a goal, he 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 UK, Poland and the Baltic states. The defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania issued a statement saying they received US approval to send Stinger air defense missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles to strengthen Kiev’s defenses.

Russia demands security guarantees from the United States and NATO, including a permanent ban on Ukraine joining the Western military alliance. He denies planning to invade Ukraine despite deploying tens of thousands of Russian troops along the border.

Lambrecht described the right of each sovereign state to decide whether to join as a “red line” for NATO, saying Russia had no veto. But the West is ready to dialogue with Moscow and take Russian interests into account, he said.

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Germany’s defense minister also warned Russia about Mali, saying 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 West African country, where Germany has around 1,000 soldiers stationed as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission MINUSMA.

“Moscow will not succeed, by sending mercenaries, in persuading the West to withdraw almost automatically in all places where Russia does not want to see us. We will not back down, we will not make things so easy for the Russians,” said Christine Lambrecht.

Russia denies that its government is linked to the Wagner group, whose activities in several countries have caused controversy. But the unit has been linked to a businessman close to Vladimir Putin.

Lambrecht also appealed to the Malian military junta to ensure that conditions were good if he wanted Germany to maintain a presence in the country. Bamako this week refused permission for a German army plane to fly over its territory en route to Niamey, Niger’s capital.

Mali is at the center of an Islamist insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and then spread to neighboring countries.

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