Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Germany, Ukraine push back against war warning by US



Germany, Ukraine push back against war warning by US

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest to oppose a US war with Russia over Ukraine at Grand Central Terminal in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Saturday. AFP

Germany, Ukraine push back against war warning by US

Germany’s foreign minister warned on February 19 against trying to guess or assume Russia’s decisions on Ukraine, toning down the rhetoric after Washington’s fierce warnings of an imminent invasion.

“We do not know yet if an attack has been decided on,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), adding that the “threat against Ukraine is very real”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, attending the same conference, also pushed back against Washington’s dire predictions.

“We do not think that we need to panic,” Zelensky told an audience of top-level officials and security experts from around the world.

US President Joe Biden had said a day earlier that he was “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin had “made the decision” to attack Ukraine, sending fears soaring that a major conflict could break out in Europe.

Baerbock made her remarks after hosting a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting on the fringes of the Munich gathering, which has been dominated by the Ukraine crisis this year.

The group of seven most developed nations – including the US – reaffirmed they were “united” in their support for Ukraine and determined to respond to any violation of its sovereignty, said Baerbock, whose country holds the rotating G7 presidency.

“Pull your troops back, avoid damage to Russia and Ukraine and let us talk,” Baerbock said in an appeal to Putin.

But the message of unity was slightly undermined by Baerbock’s refusal to echo US claims that Russia could invade Ukraine any moment now.

“In crisis situations, the most inappropriate thing to do is to somehow guess or assume,” Baerbock told reporters, after being repeatedly pressed on whether Germany shared Biden’s assessment.

Germany nevertheless urged its nationals to leave Ukraine on February 19.

Speaking on the main stage in Munich, Zelensky said it was “difficult for me to judge” the US intelligence behind the warnings, but “I trust Ukrainian intelligence, who understand what’s going on along our borders”.

Zelensky also touched on the toll the incessant threat of war was taking on his country, both on people’s mental health and on the economy.

“We need to preserve our stability. We need to keep calm and be adults,” he said.

NATO Jens Stoltenberg, speaking to German broadcaster ARD, stuck more closely to the US line when he described the risk of an attack as “very high”.

“Every indication indicates that Russia is planning a full-fledged attack against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

Baerbock reiterated in Munich that Russia would face “unprecedented” sanctions should it invade Ukraine, some of which would bring economic pain to the countries imposing them.

That includes potentially halting the not-yet-certified Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, she said, an issue that had previously driven a wedge in transatlantic relations.

The project, backed by Germany’s previous chancellor Angela Merkel, has long irked the US and Germany’s European partners, who believe it will be used as a geopolitical weapon by Putin.

Germany’s early reluctance to explicitly put Nord Stream 2 on the list of possible sanctions exasperated allies, particularly Washington, and raised doubts about Berlin’s resolve in the Ukraine crisis.

MOST VIEWED

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • All Covid restrictions for inbound travellers lifted

    Cambodia has apparently taken the final step towards full reopening of the country without Covid-19 restrictions by removing all requirements for inbound travellers, who until now had to show health certificates indicating that they have tested Covid-19 negative in the past 72 hours as well as

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Thai Senate delegates in Cambodia to discuss anti-graft co-op

    A delegation from Thailand's Senate was in Phnom Penh on September 28 to meet their Cambodian counterparts to discuss strategies for fighting corruption and enhancing cooperation. The Thai delegates were from its Senate’s Committee on Studying and Inspecting Corruption, Misconduct and Strengthening Good Governance. They

  • Mushrooming borey projects and home financing – a cause for concern?

    A spurt in housing developments is typically a sign of a growing economy but underneath all that might lay some anxiety of credit growth as developers offer financing to buyers at higher rates, an activity the central bank identifies as ‘shadow banking’ Earlier this year,

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement