Alarm in Kiev, big cities under fire: the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia meet today for the first time since the beginning of the war. Ukrainian ambassador urges Germany to give up Russian energy.
Before the first meeting of foreign ministers Russia and the Ukraine Since the start of the war two weeks ago, troops on both sides have also fought at night.
Ukraine reports shelling of several large cities. There was another air strike in the capital Kiev. A new attempt is planned for the morning to save people from besieged cities during a regional ceasefire. Above all, the hope is based on the first high-level talks between the two sides.
New diplomatic efforts
To that end, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has arrived in Antalya, Turkey, where he and his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov want to explore options for ending the war. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wants to mediate.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, wants to talk about the safety of Ukrainian nuclear plants in Antalya. According to the IAEA, it has not only lost contact with the Chernobyl power plant, but also with Ukraine’s largest nuclear reactor, Zaporizhia.
As a condition for an end to the fighting, Russia is demanding that Ukraine declare itself neutral in its constitution. Furthermore, Kiev must recognize the annexed Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea as Russian and the breakaway areas as independent. The president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskii he indicated a certain willingness to compromise. Not all the highest demands could be heard even from Moscow.
Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeier fears, however, that the brutality of the Russian war will only increase. “Unfortunately, there are no signs that this war will end anytime soon,” he said in a Bertelsmann Stiftung podcast. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wants to discuss the situation with the heads of state and government of the other 26 EU countries at an evening summit in Versailles Paris recommend.
The war events
According to Ukrainian information, a new attempt is planned from 8:00 am German time to save people from the cities of the Sumy region in the north-east through three escape corridors to the city of Poltava, further west. A regional ceasefire is planned for this, the regional administration announced. Nearly 50,000 people fled the encircled city of Sumy on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The evacuation of the port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine has been a struggle for days. An attack on a maternity clinic there on Wednesday caused horror, including among UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who called for an end to “senseless violence”.
The events of the war overnight remained confusing, especially since the information provided by the warring parties cannot be independently verified. Ukrainian authorities and the military reported Russian attacks in the area around Sumy and the city of Kharkiv, as well as attempts to advance into the capital Kiev and the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. But the Russian offensive was slowed down. The pro-Russian separatists in the Luhansk region, for their part, spoke of bombing from Ukraine, as reported by the Russian agency Tass.
Ukraine hopes for further German arms deliveries
Ukraine is hoping for more arms deliveries from Germany, Ambassador Andriy Melnyk told the German news agency. The German arms industry has submitted proposals to the Ministry of Defense. “We expect a positive decision”.
Despite a clear refusal by the US government, Melnyk does not give up hope of delivering MiG-29 fighters. Poland had agreed to make the planes available to the United States with the ultimate goal of taking them to Ukraine. The US government refuses because it fears NATO involvement in the war.
The US House of Representatives approved $ 13.6 billion (€ 12.3 billion) in aid to Ukraine overnight.
Gauck: “Freeze for Freedom”
Ambassador Melnyk also increased pressure on Germany to accept an import ban on Russian energy supplies. Given the high number of war casualties among the civilian population, saying no to this is “morally unacceptable”. The federal government rejects this because Germany is simply too dependent on energy from Russia and could threaten economic upheaval.
The former federal president Joachim Gauck however, he said on ARD: “We can also freeze for freedom.”
Even without the import ban, Germany will have to prepare for a recession and even higher prices due to the war – the head of the German Institute for Economic Research, Marcel Fratzscher, told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. Given the burdens, Germany is expected to give up the debt brake for the next few years.
At the same time, Fratzscher assumes that inflation will accelerate. “There will likely be inflation rates of well over five percent this year. If the war escalates and new sanctions are imposed, it can go as high as ten percent.”
Refugee teachers for refugee children
Germany, like other EU countries, faces a huge task, among other things, when it comes to caring for refugees from Ukraine. According to the United Nations, more than two million people have fled Ukraine since the war began on February 24 and more than 80,000 war refugees have been registered in Germany.
Federal Minister of Education Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) wants to use refugee teachers from Ukraine to care for children in schools and kindergartens, as she told media group Funke. The head of the Federal Employment Agency, Detlef Scheele, has promised refugees unbureaucratic support when looking for work in an interview with the German editorial network. The Action Alliance for Disaster Relief also shows that the Germans are very willing to donate: so far more than 76 million euros have been booked.
What is important today
The meeting of Russian-Ukrainian foreign ministers in Antalya is expected to start in the morning and the informal EU summit in Versailles in the afternoon (17:30).
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) travels to Poland for refugee talks. The German bishops want to make a statement on the war in Ukraine at the spring conference. Refugee children are a topic at the Conference of Education Ministers in Lübeck.
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