Following two days of discussions in Brussels, Federal Chancellor Scholz stressed the unity among the heads of state and government. “We have all jointly condemned the war of aggression in the strongest possible terms and we all agree that what is needed now is an immediate ceasefire,” Scholz said on Friday evening, adding that it had become “very, very clear” that everyone shared a great sense of solidarity with Ukraine.
Shared responsibility for refugees
On the issue of the movement of refugees out of Ukraine, Federal Chancellor Scholz stressed the unique role and major service played by neighbouring countries, along with the great willingness in many countries to take in those seeking sanctuary. In Scholz’s view, it is a “good sign that everyone is willing to take in refugees, that they are willing to show solidarity, and that they all recognise their shared responsibility during the greatest movement of refugees in Europe since the Second World War.”
Increasing the independence of the economy and energy supplies
Energy prices and supplies were also on the agenda. “Energy prices have risen sharply and are a burden on everyone. Many member states have taken actions to relieve the burdens on their citizens, and the Federal Government is one of them,” Scholz said. The Federal Chancellor drew attention to the joint efforts to promote the massive expansion of renewable energies, so that “we can make our economy and energy supplies independent of fossil raw material exports from Russia.” EU states are aiming to act jointly as purchasers in the gas market, in order to improve their negotiating position as a large participant in the market.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz joined the other 26 EU heads of state and government for a meeting of the European Council on Thursday and Friday. At the beginning of the summit, US President Joe Biden exchanged views with the leaders of EU countries on Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. Following this, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky joined them for a video discussion.
Sanctions: closing loopholes
The heads of state and government renewed their condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression that flouts international law. They all agreed to continue providing Ukraine with political, financial, material and humanitarian support. With regard to the sanctions imposed so far, they made it clear that the EU is ready to close loopholes and prevent attempts to circumvent them. The heads of state and government also underscored their willingness to work swiftly to adopt further coordinated sanctions against Russia.
The European Council meeting also addressed other consequences of Russia’s aggression. The heads of state and government confirmed the EU’s Strategic Compass and discussed defence policy. They also exchanged views on energy prices and supply security.
The EU heads of state and government also intend to discuss other economic issues. Finally, they will broach the issues of the current state of the Coronavirus pandemic and other aspects of external relations.
G7 show solidarity with Ukraine
At the Federal Chancellor’s invitation, the G7 heads of state and government had already met on Thursday evening to discuss the situation in Ukraine and further joint measures. Following the meeting, Federal Chancellor Scholz said: “Our discussions have shown that we are more united than ever in this challenging situation, and we are acting jointly and decisively.”
He added that the leaders’ unity was also reflected in the G7 joint declaration, in which the heads of state and government of the seven leading economic nations stress their solidarity with Ukraine and renew their condemnation of Russia’s invasion. They appeal to Belarus to avoid further escalation and to refrain from deploying its armed forces against Ukraine.
“As long as is necessary”
“We have responded to Russia’s flagrant breach of international law with tough, closely coordinated and targeted sanctions,” said Scholz. “And we all agree that we will maintain these sanctions for as long as is necessary and keep their efficacy under review.” He added that the G7 would continue to take action to ensure that other governments also implement the sanctions.
More humanitarian aid
The Federal Chancellor stressed that the G7 must live up to their global responsibility. “We will support Ukraine and its neighbours.” For this reason, the G7 agreed to increase humanitarian aid for Ukraine and to provide support with cyber defence and measures to prevent Russian disinformation. Scholz announced that “Germany will increase its humanitarian aid for Ukraine and its neighbours by more than 370 million euros.”
“In the face of Russia’s aggression, our objective for energy supplies is clear: we want to make ourselves less dependent on Russia,” stressed the Federal Chancellor, who noted that intensive work is underway on this. The G7 want to provide active assistance to those countries that intend to gradually reduce their dependence on imports of gas, oil and coal from Russia. The G7 are calling on gas and oil producing countries to act responsibly and increase their supplies to the international markets in order to guarantee stable energy supplies.
With regard to the Paris Agreement, the crisis should also help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to cleaner energy.
NATO stresses its solidarity with Ukraine and condemns Russia’s invasion
The 30 NATO heads of state and government had met earlier on Thursday morning for an extraordinary summit on the war in Ukraine. In a joint statement, they reinforced their full solidarity with Ukraine. NATO countries have reaffirmed their commitment to increase their financial and military support for Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ruled out military operations by NATO forces in Ukraine or in Ukrainian airspace, as “we have a responsibility to ensure that the war does not escalate beyond Ukraine,” he said. “This would cause even more death and even more destruction.”
NATO states called on President Putin of Russia to end the war in Ukraine immediately, to accept the 16 March judgement of the International Court of Justice of the United Nations and cease its military operations forthwith.
The heads of state and government strongly condemned the breaches of international law and war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population and attacks against civilian infrastructure, including nuclear power stations. The leaders issued an emphatic warning to Russia not to use chemical or biological weapons. According to the statement, this “would be unacceptable and result in severe consequences.”
NATO responds to Russia’s actions
In response to Russia’s actions, NATO has already activated its defence plans, redeployed elements of NATO response forces and 40,000 troops to its eastern border and placed air and sea units under direct NATO command. In addition to the four multinational battlegroups already in place in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, four additional multinational battlegroups are being established in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.
Following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, NATO heads of state and government discussed a long-term realignment of the western defence alliance. A new Strategic Concept is to be adopted at the next NATO summit, which takes place in Madrid at the end of June.