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West to use frozen Russian profits to arm Ukraine


Ukraine’s backers will use windfall profits on frozen Russian assets to finance arms purchases for Kyiv, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said following a meeting with his French and Polish counterparts that aimed to show unity after weeks of friction.

At a joint press conference in Berlin, Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk reaffirmed their support for a Ukraine, whose ammunition-starved troops face their toughest battles since the early days of Russia’s invasion two years ago.

European support has become increasingly key as US President Joe Biden has been unable to get a big Ukraine aid package through Congress, and much of his foreign policy energy is focused on the war in Gaza.

Scholz said the leaders had agreed on the need to procure more weapons for Ukraine on the global market and to boost the production of military gear, including through cooperation with partners in Ukraine.

“We will use windfall profits from Russian assets frozen in Europe to financially support the purchase of weapons for Ukraine,” Scholz said, backing a proposal made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month.

Scholz said the leaders also agreed on the need for the Ukraine Defence Contact group to set up a coalition to provide long-distance artillery to Kyiv.

A proposal to set up a long-range missile coalition had already been agreed in Paris on February 26. It was unclear whether Scholz’ comments referred to this and how Germany, which has opposed sending its long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine, would participate.

Their defence ministers are set to meet on Monday at the Ramstein US Air Base in Germany.

Macron reiterated his warning that it was not just Ukrainian but European security at stake.

“We will do everything as necessary for as long as needed so that Russia cannot win this war,” Macron said.

“This determination is steadfast and implies our unity.”

He added that the three leaders had agreed on the need to reinforce support for Moldova, which says Russia is trying to destabilise it through a “hybrid war”.

He said the three leaders had agreed to never initiate an escalation with Russia, a possible way to downplay talk of sending Western ground troops to Ukraine, which has irked Germany.

The meeting of the so-called Weimar triangle – Germany, France and Poland – came after weeks of tensions, in particular between Scholz and Macron, that had alarmed officials in Kyiv and across the continent.

A hastily-arranged summit in Paris last month had aimed to give fresh impetus to stagnating Western efforts to help Ukraine repel a full-scale Russian invasion that has entered its third year.

Instead, Macron’s refusal to rule out deploying Western troops to Ukraine triggered a dressing down from Scholz.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told Reuters that “indecision and uncoordinated action” among Kyiv’s allies was leading to “grave consequences”.

“Russia starts to get cocky and begins to believe that it can quantitatively squeeze Ukraine,” he said.

“Ukraine, in turn, is experiencing a severe shortage of specific resources, primarily shells, and is partially losing the initiative.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a stark warning to members of the alliance on Thursday that Ukraine was running out of ammunition and they were not doing enough to help.

On Friday, the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised powers told Iran not to transfer ballistic missiles ot Russia to use against Ukraine, warning they would be forced to take action against Tehran if it did so.

“Were Iran to proceed with providing ballistic missiles or related technology to Russia, we are prepared to respond swiftly and in a coordinated manner including with new and significant measures against Iran,” the G7 leaders said in a statement.



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