I cried today Heartbreak as Germany blasted for making Ukraine a sacrificial lamb
Russia could ‘put foot on throat of Germany’ says expert
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Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, condemned the little support being given by the government of Olaf Scholz to those suffering from the Kremlin’s assault, saying his country’s people were being “knocked down and not heard at all” by Europe’s biggest player.
Speaking to journalist Markus Lanz on German television on Thursday, he said: “Well, I have to tell you that I haven’t cried for many years.
“Today was that day and we cried.
“I actually cried today because of the coldness and indifference I was met with today in Berlin during the course of the day.”
His comments came on the day the longstanding diplomatic crisis between Moscow and the West turned into a full-scale military conflict, with Russian forces crossing borders and bombing targets near Ukraine’s big cities.
Since the escalation, which happened moments after a pre-dawn TV statement in which Vladimir Putin emphasised an occupation of Ukraine was not on the cards, more than 100 casualties have been reported.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the death toll on Thursday night stood at 137 people – while 316 had been wounded.
Mr Melnyk, who called the conflict a “war of extermination”, said he had met with members of the German government to request “fuel and equipment for the army”.
Their response, he claimed, left him “truly speechless”.
In recalling the meeting, Mr Melnyk expressed frustration at Berlin’s “cold-hearted and stubborn” approach to an attack of a scale not seen in Europe since World War Two.
Appealing to “the Germans, to our friends, this beautiful country” for aid, he said: “Please help us to change the German government’s mind.
“This policy, this hesitancy makes us as a sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered in front of running cameras.”
As the world’s biggest economies issue sanctions on Moscow, with Boris Johnson saying the UK Government is on a “remorseless mission to squeeze Russia from the global economy”, Berlin is under scrutiny for what many are describing as a weak reaction.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has been at the forefront of the country’s approach to the row since the beginning, has been halted.
Owned by Russia’s state-backed energy giant Gazprom, it runs from western Siberia to Germany and doubles the capacity of the already-in-use Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Construction was completed last September but regulators were yet to give the $11bn pipeline the green light to operate.
Approval is for now suspended, with 26 million German homes missing out on what had been presented as a way to provide families with energy at an affordable price.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba called the decision “a morally, politically and practically correct step in the current circumstances”.
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However, on the international stage, more seems to be expected from the new traffic light government as its eagerness to get tough with the Kremlin still appears limited.
One element that hints at this is Mr Scholz’s opposition on including the SWIFT international payments system in new EU sanctions against Russia.
Arriving at Thursday’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels, the Chancellor said it was important to impose “necessary further sanctions”.
Yet, when asked whether those sanctions should involve barring Moscow from using SWIFT, he suggested he was against such a step.
Though avoiding an explicit mention of SWIFT, he said: “In terms of unity and determination, it is very important that we decide on the measures that have now been prepared over the last few weeks, and reserve everything else for a situation where it is necessary to do other things as well.”
Mr Scholz’s evasive answer followed a straightforward appeal by Mr Kuleba on Twitter earlier that day. He wrote: “I will not be diplomatic on this. Everyone who now doubts whether Russia should be banned from SWIFT has to understand that the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children will be on their hands too.
“BAN RUSSIA FROM SWIFT.”
At a time of deep crisis, Germany — alongside Italy — is accused of being self-centred.
Analysts suggests its heavy reliance on Russian gas supplies and business ties with Moscow have led it to repeatedly urge the EU to hold back on the toughest sanctions of all for now, arguing those “nuclear” options should be kept for later in case the situation worsens.
On Friday morning, President Zelenskyy urged the bloc to act faster and more forcefully in punishing the Kremlin.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a third round of sanctions was in the planning.
While she confirmed the leaders of the 27 member nations had decided not to cut Russia off from SWIFT, she said the European assets of the Russian president and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be frozen even before the next wave is approved.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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