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Ukraine updates: Germans see arming Ukraine as involvement

February 25, 2023

A poll conducted by Germany's DPA news agency suggests many Germans disapprove of arming Ukraine in its war against Russia. Meanwhile, Russia's Medvedev denied the country was running out of missiles. DW has the latest.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius sits next to a German soldier driving a Leopard 2 tank
A slight majority of Germans see supplying Ukraine with weapons as involvement in the warImage: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

The majority of German people see their country's arms deliveries to Ukraine as participation in the war against Russia, a recent poll suggests.

The poll was conducted on behalf of Germany's DPA news agency by the opinion research institute YouGov. It surveyed 2,072 Germans nationwide from February 21 until February 23, ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Fifty-one percent of the respondents thought arming Ukraine meant being part of the war, an argument that Russia has been pushing. Meanwhile, 37% disagreed with the statement.

Germany has approved some €2.6 billion ($2.75 billion) worth of weapons and armaments since the start of the war.

Forty percent of those polled considered the amount of weapons support from Germany to be too much, 22% thought it was too little, and 23% thought it was just the right amount.

Respondents were specifically polled about the controversial decision to send German heavy Leopard 2 tanks to the conflict.

The German government approved the decision to send 18 modern tanks last month after a lot of hesitation over fears of provoking Russia and prolonging the conflict.

Those polled were nearly equally torn, with 44% being against and 41% being in favor.

Asked about the possibility of Germany sending fighter jets to the conflict, 56% of those polled disapproved, whereas 27% were in favor.

Germany is considered the fourth biggest arms supplier to Ukraine since the full invasion one year ago, after the US, Britain and Poland.

Here are some of the other notable developments concerning the war in Ukraine on Saturday, February 25:

Wagner group claims control of village around Bakhmut

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, said in an audio message on Telegram that his fighters have taken control of Yahinde, a village to the north of Bakhmut.

Wagner group said yesterday its fighters had taken control of the village of Berkhivka, also in the area around Bakhmut.

Russian forces have tried to claim Bakhmut and surrounding areas for months, with Ukrainian troops resisting efforts.

There is no independent confirmation yet for Russia's claim.

Russia halts oil supply to Poland via Druzhba pipeline

Russia has stopped supplying Polish energy group PKN Orlen with oil via the Druzhba pipeline, the group announced on Saturday, cutting some 10% of Orlen's needs.

Orlen Chief Executive Daniel Obajtek confirmed the news on Twitter.

"We are effectively securing supplies. Russia has halted oil supplies to Poland, for which we are fully prepared. Only 10% of crude oil has been coming from Russia and we will replace it with oil from other sources," he said.

Obajtek added that the company would give more information on alternative sources of supply during a conference on Tuesday.

The pipeline has been thus far exempted from EU sanctions on Russia.

Russia's halting of oil supply came only one day after Poland sent the first Leopard heavy tanks to Ukraine. Earlier this week, Warsaw hosted US President Joe Biden, following a brief stop in Kyiv.

Germany ready to fulfill armed forces investments, defense industry association says

Germany was "optimistic" about getting orders to fulfill armed forces investments, after lull over a special €100 billion ($106 billion) defense fund announced on the heels of Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year under the auspices of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's "Zeitenwende," or "turning point" policies.

Hans-Christoph Atzpodien, the chief executive of the German Security and Defence Industry Association (BDSV), told Germany's DPA news agency on Saturday that the industry was ready to partner up with the German Bundeswehr and the Defense Ministry. 

"We are confident that we will now get orders across the board," he said. "The companies are highly motivated, especially since some of them have already taken entrepreneurial risks."

Atzpodien added that it was important to increase the defense budget, in parallel to the special fund. He stressed investing in the Bundeswehr was an urgent matter to "protect German democracy and Europe as a whole."

The special fund was announced on February 27 last year, days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, only a small amount of it has been disbursed.

No tanks or artillery orders were made by the beginning of the year, partly due to the provisional budget only initially coming into force last year, making it difficult to grant new contracts.

Belarus's Lukashenko speaks to Putin on war anniversary

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko held a long conversation with his Russian ally Vladimir Putin on Friday, as the world marked the first anniversary of the war that resulted from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A channel close to Lukashenko on the Telegram messaging app told reporters about the talk. However, no details regarding the topics discussed were given.

elarus President Alexander Lukashenko L welcomes his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at Minsk National Airport on December 19, 2022.
Lukashenko is known to be a staunch supporter of PutinImage: Sergei Karpukhin/ITAR-TASS/IMAGO

The Belarusian president is known to be a staunch supporter of Putin.

The talk comes days after a consortium of Western outlets reported that Russia was planning to annex Belarus by the year 2030, citing a document allegedly leaked from Russia's presidential administration.

Medvedev denies Russia is running out of missiles

Russia's former president and Putin-confidante Dmitry Medvedev has denied reports that the country's ongoing war against Ukraine has dried up its missile supply.

Medvedev said in an article published in Russia's monthly National Defense magazine that Russia has boosted its arms output, as well as closely examining enemy weapons that came its way.

"We are not just expanding production but are also introducing the latest technologies and fine-tuning them literally ‘on the march,'" the Russian state-run Tass news agency quoted Medvedev as saying.

He added that Russian forces have also inspected enemy weapons which they seized "as trophies," adding that said weapons have been taken apart into tiny parts at Russian military design bureaus.

"We have learned a lot of useful things and have put the enemy's experience to our advantage," he said.

Medvedev, who serves as the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, has often been described as Putin's protege. Many believe the Russian president is likely to choose him as a successor.

A Western think tank had suggested last week that Russia had lost around half of its most modern tanks in the war, adding that the country was struggling to replace them.

Britain says Russia out of Iranian drones

The British Ministry of Defense suggested on Saturday that Russia has run out of Iranian drones it had used in the war.

In its daily update on the war, the British ministry said there were no reports of the use of the Iranian one-way-attack unmanned aerial vehicles (OWA-UAVs) in Ukraine since mid-February.

The ministry added that Ukrainian forces had reported shooting down at least 24 of the Shahed-136 drones between late January and early February.

"This lack of OWA-UAV deployments likely indicates that Russia has run down its current stock. Russia will likely seek a resupply," the UK Defense Ministry said.

Britain to give displaced Ukrainians 3K Eurovision tickets

The British government will provide displaced Ukrainians with 3,000 tickets for the Eurovision Song Contest, due to be held in the English city of Liverpool later this year.

The European singing contest is traditionally hosted by the country of the previous edition's winners. Though last year's Ukrainian Kalush Orchestra won the contest with the song "Stefania," the contest could not be hosted by the war-torn country for security reasons.

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine arrives for the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Ukrainian Kalush Orchestra won the contest with the song "Stefania" last yearImage: Luca Bruno/AP Photo/picture alliance

Hosting rights went instead to the country of the runner-ups; the UK.

"Today's announcement means that thousands of tickets will be offered to those displaced by war, so that they can take part in a show honoring their homeland, their culture and their music," Britain's Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said.

"As always, we stand together with the Ukrainian people and their fight for freedom."

The British government added that it would provide 10 million pounds ($12 million) worth of funding to help host the competition.

One year of war in Ukraine: How has it impacted culture?

More on the war in Ukraine

Ukraine's Zelenskyy says "2023 will be the year of our victory" as Poland says the first Leopard tanks have already been delivered to Kyiv. Ukraine marks a year of war — as it happened

People staged demonstrations around the world in protest of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year after its onset. In Berlin, a disabled Russian tank was put on show near Moscow's embassy.

Russian authorities have arrested several Russians who placed flowers at the statues of famed Ukrainian writers to protest against the war, according to Russian NGOs and media.

Speaking on the one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian president said he wanted China and India, as well as African and Latin American nations, to back peace in his country.

rm, rmt/ar (dpa, Reuters)