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Ukraine: Zelenskyy says Kyiv will end war on 'own terms'

Published June 11, 2024last updated June 12, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the German parliament, as Berlin hosted a conference to try to secure billions in funding to boost Kyiv's defense against Russia and rebuild Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenksyy and Olaf Scholz in Berlin
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said more air defense is needed in UkraineImage: Britta Pedersen/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed German lawmakers in the Bundestag for the first time in person on Tuesday. He said his country "would always be grateful" for Germany's help in resisting Russia's invasion.

His address comes as more than 2,000 representatives from 60 countries are in Berlin for the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

The conference, established in 2022, aims to facilitate international initiatives like business development to support Ukrainian society long-term.

Ukraine is currently fighting to hold back a recent Russian push in eastern areas including the border regions of Kharkiv and Donetsk.

Russia on Monday claimed the capture of another village in Ukraine's Donetsk region.

Here's a look at the latest developments regarding Russia's war in Ukraine on Tuesday, June 11. This blog has now closed.

Skip next section German companies and people are 'largest' supporters of Ukraine, Ukrainian deputy PM tells DW
June 12, 2024

German companies and people are 'largest' supporters of Ukraine, Ukrainian deputy PM tells DW

Deputy Prime Minister for the European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna told DW that she doesn't think German support for Ukraine will wither after witnesssing support for her country at the Ukraine recovery conference in Berlin.

That was because of the "the security commitments signed, but also because of serious political commitments to be undertaken at the G7 meeting and the upcoming NATO summit," she said.

"Germany has the biggest interests in that... as the major military supporter of Ukraine and the major financial contributor," she added.

In response to DW's question asking how she felt about insults leveled at President Zelenskyy by German politicians boycotting his speech in the Bundestag, Stefanishyna said that hundreds of German companies joined the  conference in Berlin too.

"We really have to judge not by statements, but by actions (….) Germans from every region [are] now represented at the Recovery Conference and hundreds of agreements have been signed at different levels."

"And Germany… German companies, German people, have become the largest supporters of Ukraine," she said.

Zelenskyy in Berlin for Ukraine Recovery Conference

Skip next section 'We have the right to defend ourselves,' Polish foreign minister tells DW
June 11, 2024

'We have the right to defend ourselves,' Polish foreign minister tells DW

Russian President Vladimir Putin is testing Europe's resolve in his war against Ukraine, said Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski.

Speaking to DW’s Richard Walker at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, Sikorski described the Russian military's attacks on the Ukrainian power system as "war crimes," saying the situation this winter would be "precarious."

Despite the challenges, he said, Europe would rally to Ukraine’s support, providing it with the power it needs.

Sikorski also argued that the stakes are too high for Poland, pointing to how a Russian missile landed near his home in western Poland, far from the Ukrainian front line.

He discussed what steps NATO might need to take to protect its territory — and whether shooting down Russian missiles might be the next step.

"Well, certainly, if they cross into NATO territory, we certainly have the hope to defend our own airspace," he said, adding: "No decisions have yet been made."

Sikorski: 'We have the right to defend ourselves'

Skip next section German vice chancellor calls lack of support for Ukraine 'shortsighted'
June 11, 2024

German vice chancellor calls lack of support for Ukraine 'shortsighted'

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck spoke with DW's Michaela Küfner at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin on Tuesday, and spoke of mechanisms to entice investment in Ukraine, as well as what he saw as the governing coalition's responsibility to clearly articulate what is at stake in Ukraine in the wake of Sunday's EU elections.

Habeck told DW that Berlin's investment guarantee program, which was created last year, had been successful in helping companies invest in Ukraine by creating a kind of government insurance. The concept allows companies to carry less risk, which helps fuel investment.

He also pointed to Russia's focus on destroying Ukraine's heating and energy infrastructure.

Habeck cited coordinated efforts by Ukraine's allies to create shared databases in which Ukraine could alert allies to what equipment or replacement parts were most desperately needed and that Western partners could then search state and private inventory lists to find those parts.

"I hope it's coming soon enough and fast enough because the Russians have not stopped destroying the infrastructure. So it is a critical issue there," he said. 

When asked about coalition party losses and the rise in popularity of parties arguing against helping Ukraine in Sunday's EU elections, Habeck said it was important to acknowledge what Ukrainians are fighting for.

"The Ukrainians are not only defending their right for freedom, they are defending the European idea for freedom and peace. So if Putin succeeds in Ukraine, he will not stop. It is our own interest as well, that we supply Ukraine with money and also military and defense."

He also said it would be up to himself and others in the government to make clear that denying Ukraine the assistance that it needs was "the wrong conclusion," calling it "shortsighted." 

Habeck: 'If Putin succeeds in Ukraine, he will not stop'

Skip next section Zelenskyy warns against pro-Russian rhetoric in EU, as far-left and right German MPs boycott speech
June 11, 2024

Zelenskyy warns against pro-Russian rhetoric in EU, as far-left and right German MPs boycott speech

German lawmakers from the far left and far right boycotted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech to the Bundestag in Berlin.

According to news agency reports, the far-left Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) stayed away from the event completely, while only four members of the far-right AfD's parliamentary group attended.

The BSW campaigned in the recent European Parliament elections to stop weapons deliveries to Ukraine and has accused Zelenskyy of sacrificing people as "cannon fodder for an unwinnable war."

The AfD, which came in second placeduring Germany's EU vote at 16%, has also been critical of Berlin's decision to provide Ukraine with weapons.

The party leaders said in a statement they wouldn't attend the Bundestag session with Zelenskyy because "we refuse to listen to a speaker wearing camouflage fatigues."

"Ukraine does not need a war president now, it needs a peace president who is willing to negotiate so that the dying stops and the country has a future," the AfD said.

Zelenskyy is in Berlin for an international conference to gather more support for his war-torn country's reconstruction.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president told the conference that he was concerned about the rise of pro-Russian rhetoric in politics, particularly after far-right parties made significant gains in the European Parliament elections.

"It seems to me that the most important thing is that people did not choose pro-Russian populist rhetoric," Zelenskyy said. "But radical pro-Russian rhetoric is dangerous for your countries."

Scholz alarmed by far right gains in EU vote

Skip next section 'The time for compromise is over,' Zelenskyy says in Bundestag speech
June 11, 2024

'The time for compromise is over,' Zelenskyy says in Bundestag speech

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin
Zelenskyy addressed the Bundestag for the first time in personImage: Axel Schmidt/REUTERS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told German lawmakers that Russia must pay for the damage it has inflicted on his country.

"Those who started the war have to be held responsible," he said. "They have to be brought to justice for every war crime committed."

"The time for compromises is over," he added.

"As soon as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin started to burn our cities … as soon as he started to pursue murder instead of agreements and contracts, the time for compromise ended."

Zelenskyy made the comments in a speech to lawmakers in Germany's lower house of parliament. It was the first time he had addressed the Bundestag in person.

Zelenskyy is in Berlin to attend a conference focused on shoring up support to rebuild Ukraine.

During his speech, he thanked Germany for its support and for providing Patriot missile systems, which he said "saved the lives of thousands of our citizens."

Germany is the second-largest supporter of Ukraine behind the US and the biggest supporter in Europe.

"Putin will lose this war," the Ukrainian president said. "We will not allow Russia to continue to march through Europe with its contempt for life."

"We will not pass on this war to the next generation. We will end it. We will end it in the interest of Ukraine and the interest of Europe as a whole."

Zelenskyy also referred to Germany's history in his address, recalling the decades the country was divided by the Berlin Wall.

"You can understand us in Ukraine, you can understand why we are fighting so hard against Russia's attempts to divide Ukraine, why we are doing everything we can to make sure there is not a new wall in our country," he said.

"Russia is standing against all of us alone, so we all have to force Russia to change, and it is possible, because there is no wall that cannot be brought down."

Zelenskyy: 'Our only goal is peace'

Skip next section Italy announces funds to boost Ukraine's infrastructure, military
June 11, 2024

Italy announces funds to boost Ukraine's infrastructure, military

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said his country was prepared to send a new military package to Ukraine, including air defense equipment.

The announcement came during an international conference in Berlin to mobilize support for Ukraine's reconstruction.

Reuters news agency cited Tajani as saying that the Italian government had agreed to a package of €140 million ($150.37 million) for Ukrainian infrastructure and was ready to send more aid to support air defense.

As the Ukraine Recovery Conference got underway on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz both appealed for countries to provide Kyiv with more air defense systems.

Ukraine Recovery Conference has started in Berlin: Michaela Küfner reports

Skip next section US lifts weapons ban on Azov Brigade
June 11, 2024

US lifts weapons ban on Azov Brigade

The US has lifted a decadelong ban on providing military aid to Ukraine's Azov Brigade.

The controversial military unit has near-cult status in Ukraine and was key to defending the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol early on in the war with Russia.

But it has also been criticized over its origins as a volunteer battalion with far-right members among its ranks.

The US had banned the group from using its weapons, citing the neo-Nazi ideology of some of its founders. Under US law, Washington cannot provide equipment or training to foreign military units suspected of committing gross human rights violations.

Moscow has also sought to portray the Azov unit as a neo-Nazi group.

The brigade, which has been absorbed into Ukraine's National Guard, has rejected allegations of extremism.

On Tuesday, the US State Department said it had conducted a "thorough review" and found "no evidence" of rights violations. It also said the current Azov Brigade is different from the earlier militia unit, meaning it can now receive US weapons.

"This is a new page in our unit's history," the Azov Brigade wrote in a statement on Instagram. "Azov is becoming even more powerful, even more professional and even more dangerous for occupiers."

Ukrainians remember defense of Mariupol

Skip next section Rheinmetall opens repair center for German tanks in Ukraine
June 11, 2024

Rheinmetall opens repair center for German tanks in Ukraine

The German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has opened a repair and production facility for armored vehicles in Ukraine, the company announced.

The service center is a joint venture between Rheinmetall and a Ukrainian partner company.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Strategic Industries said the facility would ensure German tanks in Ukraine can be serviced and repaired quickly.

"The establishment of a joint production facility with Rheinmetall is not only a step towards Ukraine's victory, but also a significant milestone in the development of the arsenal of the free world," Minister Oleksandr Kamyshin said in a statement.

Ukraine has been using equipment supplied by Rheinmetall, including Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard battle tanks, in its war against Russia.

Poland: First Ukrainian soldiers training on Leopard tanks

Skip next section Germany, Ukraine sign reconstruction declaration
June 11, 2024

Germany, Ukraine sign reconstruction declaration

The finance ministries of Ukraine and Germany have signed a joint Declaration of Intent to boost bilateral cooperation to support Ukraine's postwar reconstruction, the Reuters news agency reports.

"We are not limiting ourselves to the form of support that Ukraine needs to win the war," said German Finance Minister Christian Lindner. "We want to contribute now so that Ukraine can set the course for future growth through its reconstruction."

The announcement came as Germany hosts a conference designed to attract support for Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction.

The World Bank has estimated that rebuilding Ukraine will require investments of nearly $500 billion over the next decade.

Lindner said the new pact between Berlin and Kyiv was not just about financial resources, but that it also aimed to boost institutions to promote investment and support private companies in Ukraine. 

The declaration does not create rights or obligations under international law.

Skip next section EU chief pledges billions in short-term aid for Ukraine
June 11, 2024

EU chief pledges billions in short-term aid for Ukraine

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said €1.9 billion ($2 billion) in financial aid would be released this month "to support Ukraine in its resistance and recovery."

The money will come from an EU support program for Kyiv worth €50 billion.

An additional €1.5 billion from accrued interest on frozen Russian assets in the West would be available in July, von der Leyen said at the start of a Berlin conference to rally support for reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.

Speeding up the process of how Ukraine can use the proceeds of frozen Russian assets is also on the agenda at a Group of Seven summit in Apulia this week, von der Leyen said.

"Now we make Russia pay," she said.

Skip next section Russian strikes halved Ukraine's power generation capacity — Zelenskyy
June 11, 2024

Russian strikes halved Ukraine's power generation capacity — Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told delegates at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin that Russian attacks had destroyed half of Ukraine's energy-generating capacity since winter.

"As a result of the strikes of Russian missiles and drones, nine gigawatts of capacity have already been destroyed," Zelenskyy said. "The peak of electricity consumption last winter was 18 gigawatts. So half now doesn't exist."

He added that Ukraine planned to build 1 gigawatt of gas-fired energy generation this year and 4 gigawatts in the coming years. He called for investment, aid and equipment to help Kyiv rebuild its electricity network.

Zelenskyy also said he hoped to secure billions in funding to boost defense against Russia, rebuild homes, and meet education and medical needs.

He said his country needed at least seven more Patriot air defense systems soon in order to protect major cities from Russian airstrikes.

"We will leave this conference with agreements for billions of euros for our defense, regarding the production of military equipment and weapons in Ukraine, and for our energy, for repairing and building new and more modern energy system," Zelenskyy said.

Protecting Ukraine's power grid

Skip next section Chancellor Scholz urges allies to boost Ukraine air defense
June 11, 2024

Chancellor Scholz urges allies to boost Ukraine air defense

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Olaf Scholz shake hands in Berlin on Tuesday
Scholz welcomed Zelenskyy to Berlin at the start of the Ukraine Recovery ConferenceImage: Annegret Hilse/Reuters/AP/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has opened the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin with an appeal for more to be done to bolster Ukraine's air defense in the face of Russian attacks.

"I would like to make a heartfelt plea to everyone here today: please support our initiative to strengthen Ukraine's air defense with everything that is possible," Scholz said.

Some 2,000 delegates from 60 countries are attending the two-day conference in the German capital, which aims to mobilize support for Ukraine's post-war recovery and reconstruction.

The German chancellor stressed that companies had a vital role to play in rebuilding Ukraine, but that they needed to be offered a business case for investing there. He added that there was great potential in Ukraine for industries such as renewables, pharmaceuticals and IT.

Scholz also told conference participants that Russia would not win the war, and he called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to "end his brutal campaign and withdraw his troops."

"There will be no military victory and no dictated peace," Scholz said.

West must strengthen Ukraine's air defenses, Zelenskyy warns

Skip next section Kyiv deserves 'our unwavering support,' says Schulze
June 11, 2024

Kyiv deserves 'our unwavering support,' says Schulze

German Development Minister Svenja Schulze says Ukraine needs urgent help to rebuild what has been destroyed by Russia's war.

"Even during the current times of war, Ukraine needs to continually rebuild houses, water pipelines, hospitals and power grids," she said.

"People want to keep on living in their country, and to do so they need electricity, water and a roof over their heads."

Schulze's comments came ahead of a two-day conference in Berlin to boost support for reconstruction in Ukraine. Around 2,000 people from politics, business and other sectors are expected to attend the event in the German capital on Tuesday and Wednesday.

According to the World Bank, the damage already caused by Russia's war in Ukraine amounts to at least $486 billion (€446 billion).

Schulze said the task of supporting Ukraine's recovery in the short and long term "is too big to be tackled by governments alone, which is why we are expressly inviting companies, civil society and municipalities to the conference."

Kyiv deserves "our unwavering support," she said, because it is "defending our freedom and security" in Europe.

Reconstruction of Ukraine's energy infrastructure crucial

Skip next section Russian military jet crashes in Caucasus, killing crew
June 11, 2024

Russian military jet crashes in Caucasus, killing crew

The Sukhoi SU-34 fighter jet
The Sukhoi SU-34 is a Soviet-origin supersonic medium-range bomber aircraftImage: United Aircraft Corporation/dpa/picture alliance

A Russian SU-34 bomber has crashed during a training flight in the Caucasus region of North Ossetia, the Defense Ministry reported.

A ministry statement said two people on board were killed.

It said the jet came down "in a mountainous zone" after suffering an apparent technical problem.

An investigation into the incident was underway, the ministry added.

On June 8, Russian regional authorities said Ukraine had fired drones at a military airfield near the town of Mozdok in North Ossetia. It was the first such attack in the region — which lies about 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the front line in Ukraine — since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

Skip next section Stoltenberg to attend meeting of eastern NATO states
June 11, 2024

Stoltenberg to attend meeting of eastern NATO states

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg is set to attend a meeting of high-ranking officials from eastern European NATO countries in Riga on Tuesday.

The gathering comes ahead of a NATO summit in Washington next month that is expected to focus on more aid for Ukraine as it battles invading Russian forces.

The so-called Bucharest Nine Group was established after Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014.

It includes countries on the military alliance's eastern flank: Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Security concerns have grown markedly in the region following Moscow’s invasion of its smaller neighbor, Ukraine, in February 2022. With the exception of Hungary, the Bucharest Nine have been staunch supporters of Kyiv.

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