A dramatic humanitarian situation
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has brought immeasurable suffering to people in the country. The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is growing worse by the hour. The UN Refugee Agency expects that up to 4 million may flee to neighbouring countries and that up to 8 million more may be forced by the Russian attacks to flee their homes and seek refuge in central Ukraine, where they will be needing emergency assistance. According to the Agency, some 368,000 persons have currently been forcibly displaced.
With reference to this development, Foreign Minister Baerbock stated the following today (27 February):
We are shocked at what is being done once again to Ukraine, but we are not powerless. We will not abandon you in the face of this brutal aggression against your country.
To swiftly and immediately provide Ukrainians with medical supplies and secure housing, Germany in a first step increased its contribution to the UN Ukraine Humanitarian Fund by 5 million euro directly after the war began. International organisations such as the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme, as well as local organisations, can use these funds to deliver emergency assistance on the ground. Furthermore, Germany is responding to the situation by making available 10 million euro to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is active in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.
The United Nations has earmarked an additional 20 million euro for life-saving humanitarian assistance and measures to protect the civilian population. The money is being taken from the Central Emergency Response Fund, which can be used to deliver assistance around the world. Germany was the largest donor to this fund last year, having contributed 130 million euro.
Delivering weapons and military materiel
Responding to the invasion by Russian troops and Russia’s violation of international law, Foreign Minister Baerbock today (27 February) said the following in her address to the German Bundestag:
It is a war that necessitates the revision of the pillars of our foreign policy. Speaking in this chamber about the supply of arms just a few weeks ago, I said that a 180 degree turn in foreign policy was something that needed to be done at the right time and in full awareness. Sadly, this time has come.
Besides important aid supplies, Germany will provide Ukraine with 1000 anti‑tank weapons and 500 surface‑to‑air missiles for the country’s defence; in addition, it will deliver to Ukraine urgently needed fuel and 14 armoured vehicles.
An unprecedented package of sanctions, including SWIFT
What is more, the response by Germany and its European partners includes a massive and unprecedented package of sanctions: cutting Russia off from international financial markets, an export ban for the oil industry, severe measures targeting Russia’s aviation sector, denying the country access to high technology, and sanctions targeting Russia’s President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and the network of oligarchs that supports them. Further measures have already been agreed, including the targeted and effective limitation of access to the SWIFT international payments system and measures directed at Russia’s central bank.
“The price of this war against innocent people and the violation of the United Nations Charter will be an unbearable one for the Putin system,” the Minister continued.
Documenting war crimes
Moreover, Germany will make a particular effort to support the human rights defenders and activists of Ukraine. By, among other things, continuing to pay their salaries, Germany will help to ensure that these individuals can carry on with their work for a free Ukraine – even if they are living outside the country. This particularly includes the documentation of war crimes and violence targeting the civilian population. Such acts must be recorded and publicised, also so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
At the end of her speech today in the German Bundestag, Foreign Minister Baerbock addressed the international community. She called on the members of the UN General Assembly to publicly declare on which side they stand with regard to Russia’s war of aggression and its violation of international law. Foreign Minister Baerbock said:
When it comes to the choice between war and peace, the choice between an aggressor on one side and children hiding in underground train tunnels on the other, absolutely no‑one can be neutral.