It is very much in Germany’s interests for Ukraine to be a stable, democratic and economically prosperous country. With the conflict in eastern Ukraine now in its seventh year, the humanitarian situation on the ground is distressing. The people there live in constant fear of escalation – not least in view of the massive deployment of Russian troops near the Russian-Ukrainian border. Fighting in the Donbass region has repeatedly resulted in attacks, injuries and deaths since 2014.
Germany stands firmly alongside Ukraine. Ukraine can count on Germany’s support – not just in the current conflict but on a lasting basis. Germany has supported Ukraine for many years, contributing to the country economically and financially, as well as boosting its security. It is the country that has provided the most aid to Ukraine in recent years.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz travelled to Ukraine this week. By contributing around two billion euros, “we have made the Ukrainian economy more resilient and independent in the face of foreign influence”, said Scholz after talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. See here for more on the Federal Chancellor’s visit to Kyiv.
In view of the build-up of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, Federal Chancellor Scholz then travelled to Russia on Tuesday for his inaugural visit. He appealed for courageous and responsible action on all sides. After all, he said: “For my generation, war in Europe is now inconceivable – and we must ensure that it stays that way.” See here for more on the Federal Chancellor’s visit to Moscow.
The talks under the so-called Normandy format (Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany), which were recently resumed after a prolonged break, aim to help end the conflict, mitigate its consequences for the people living in eastern Ukraine and develop a viable perspective for lasting peace.
Currently, the focus is on concrete steps to implement the so-called Minsk Agreements, which were concluded in 2014 to establish a framework for talks and a sequence of steps to resolve the conflict. Federal Chancellor Scholz recently welcomed the willingness of all parties involved – both the Russian and the Ukrainian side – to return to working actively together towards resolving the conflict.
Germany has spent some 44.4 million euros on additional stabilisation measures since 2014, in particular in the areas of conflict monitoring, peace mediation, civil society conflict management, reconciliation and dialogue measures, as well as the protection of civilians and promotion of the rule of law.
Since 2014, Germany has supported Ukraine by providing more than one billion euros in development assistance funds alone. “The aim here is to promote a strong, climate-friendly economy and a self-confident civil society as well as creating new infrastructure and new housing for the people who have been displaced from eastern Ukraine,” said Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze. In addition, the Federal Government granted Ukraine a credit guarantee framework of 500 million euros in 2014.
Alongside the USA, Germany is also the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid, having provided some 186 million euros since 2014: these funds are used for such things as clearing mines and explosive ordnance. Moreover, Germany is the largest contributor to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund established by the United Nations in 2019, with a total of 11.5 million euros to date.
Germany also supports Ukraine in coping with the coronavirus pandemic: it has supplied protective equipment, respiratory and diagnostic equipment and vaccines worth a total of around 63 million euros. In 2020, Germany also provided more than 24 million euros for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine. The humanitarian fund administered by the United Nations was increased by 2.5 million euros.
In August 2020, a central platform was established for energy policy dialogue between the two countries – a so-called energy partnership that has led to Germany supporting a number of bilateral projects in Ukraine. The focus here is on renewable energies, hydrogen, the coal transition, energy efficiency and decarbonisation.
In addition to this energy partnership, Germany joined forces with the USA to establish a “Green Fund” for Ukraine in 2021.
This involves promoting and supporting investment of a total of at least one billion US dollars, also from third parties such as the private sector. Germany will initially pay at least 175 million US dollars as a contribution to the Green Fund and will seek to increase its pledges in the course of the upcoming budget years.
In terms of military support, the Federal Armed Forces also make an important contribution to military training and advice in Ukraine. This enables an intense exchange of knowledge and experience, with a total of 551 Ukrainian servicemen and women having successfully completed their training in Germany to date.
Germany also provides military support in the form of medical services. This includes the complete financing of a field hospital capable of mobile deployment as well as other measures such as the distribution of medical supplies and materials, and also medical care of the wounded at German military hospitals.
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock travelled to the “contact line” in eastern Ukraine last week to gain a first-hand impression of the humanitarian and security situation in the conflict region. The Minister stressed: “As European allies, we’re not looking the other way. We’re not forgetting the people whose fate is at stake in this conflict. And we stand alongside Ukraine.” She said her visit had made her realise “how urgent it is for us to finally resolve this conflict”.
The “contact line” separates the areas controlled by the Ukrainian government and the parts that are de facto under separatist control. This is not a border, because the areas controlled by the separatists belong to Ukraine, too.