The Bundestag in Berlin with Ukrainian flags on display to mark the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, February 24, 2022.
Berlin – Today, Germany commemorated the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Piets and commemorations have been held across the country, with more planned for the weekend. Federal, regional and municipal authorities hung Ukrainian flags as a sign of solidarity. Today, the Ukrainian flag flew, among other things, in front of the chancellery or at the nearby Bundestag.
German politicians also express their involvement with Ukraine. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier held a central commemorative meeting in his Berlin residence together with Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Oleksiy Makeyev, which was attended by top state officials including Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“We stand on the side of Ukraine,” Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said on Twitter today. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin's brutal attacks on the Ukrainian population drove millions of people from their homeland, especially women and children. We continue to do our best to help, and for that we need more solidarity in Europe,” said Faeserová in an interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk. She thus again pointed to Germany's desire for some European Union states to become more involved in the care of refugees.
Faeserová already declared a week ago that the EU states should redistribute Ukrainian war refugees. “That Poland accepted more than 1.5 million people, we more than one million and other larger EU states, such as Spain, only 100,000, it cannot remain like this,” she said at the time.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, in turn, drew attention to the fact that Putin did not only drive Ukrainians out of their homes, but also Russians. She added that 200,000 Russians were killed or injured in Ukraine. “With the offensive war against Ukraine, Putin put the future of his people at stake,” she said.
Solidarity with Ukraine was also expressed today by the Berlinale International Film Festival, which premiered the documentary Eastern Front by Ukrainian directors Yevhen Titarenko in the German capital. and Vitaly Manský. The Czech Republic participated in the co-production of the film.
All over Germany, including Berlin, Munich, Dresden and Cologne, demonstrations against Russian aggression were called for today and the weekend. Life in the streets of the northern German city of Hamburg came to a halt for one minute at noon to commemorate the Ukrainian suffering. The wreckage of a Russian T-72 tank can be seen in the German capital in front of the Russian embassy since morning, which will remain there for the whole weekend. This machine was destroyed by the Ukrainians last March during the battle for Kiev.
Putin, according to the German president, is prolonging the war, not Western weapons
The war in Ukraine is not being prolonged by arms supplies from the West, but by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who can stop the fighting by withdrawing his troops. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced this today in Berlin at the central commemorative ceremony on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In his speech, he emphasized that Germany is the largest provider of aid to Ukraine in Europe and that Kyiv can continue to rely on German support.
“It is Russia that has brutally attacked a neighboring country. It is Russia that is still sending new troops to Ukraine. It is not Western military aid that is prolonging the war,” Steinmeier said at a memorial event held at his residence in Berlin's Bellevue Palace together with Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Oleksiy Makeev. Among the guests were, among others, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, judges of the Constitutional Court, Speaker of the Bundestag Bärbel Basová and Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher, who now chairs the Federal Council.
The German president said that Berlin is helping Ukraine on an unprecedented scale, in terms of arms, economy and humanitarian aid. “Germany is today, including military aid, the biggest European supporter of Ukraine. I am sure that it will remain so despite all the controversies and sometimes sharp debates,” said Steinmeier. He added that German political leaders are aware of the importance of supporting Ukraine. “Germany can be relied upon,” he said.
“Over a million Ukrainians found refuge with us from the war,” he said, adding that he was grateful to the Germans for their support. According to him, Germany is also ready to help with the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine and its path to the European Union.
Steinmeier sharply criticized the authoritarian Russian President Putin in his speech. “Whoever allows murder and killing, who destroys Ukraine and its cities by bombing, who kidnaps children, who lets his own soldiers bleed senselessly every day, history will never look at him as a winner. He has already lost,” he said.
< p>The German president also mentioned the Chinese plan to end the war. “Whether China wants to play a constructive role remains a question,” he said. He noted that in such a case, Beijing must negotiate not only with Moscow, but also with Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the guests of the commemorative event via video. “Germany is helping us and on the day of victory the state will stand with us,” he said. He thanked the Germans for their support so far and emphasized that now is the time to provide more weapons to defend Ukraine.
Scholz: Putin failed, he bet on division, but Ukraine is united
According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russian President Vladimir Putin failed. He launched a war of aggression and bet on division, but caused the opposite. Ukraine is more united than ever, and the countries of the European Union are also standing together. Scholz stated this in a short video, which his office released on the first anniversary of the war. On this occasion, French President Emmanuel Macron and British King Charles III also expressed their support for Ukraine.
“The world after February 24 is not the same as before,” Scholz said in a roughly 2.5-minute video last year, according to which Russia is waging a relentless war of aggression against Ukraine, which has already cost the lives of thousands of innocent Ukrainians. “What amazes us all is the determination and courage of Ukrainian men and women; how they defend their freedom,” he noted.
“Germany supports them in this – as strongly and as long as it takes,” emphasized the German chancellor. “The sooner the Russian president (Vladimir Putin) realizes that he will not achieve his imperialist goal, the greater the chance of an early end to the war. Putin has it in his hands. He can end the war.”
Macron in a short message on on Twitter in French, English and Ukrainian, he said: “Ukrainians, Ukrainians, France stands by your side. For solidarity, victory and peace.”
British King Charles III. in a statement AFP described as unusually blunt, he condemned the unprovoked attack by Russia. “The world watches with horror all this unnecessary suffering. Together we stand united,” he said.