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Speech of German Consul General Nicole Menzenbach at the BGF Conference “Rebuilding Ukraine”

Good morning, everyone. I would like to start with a huge thank you to the Boston Global Forum for putting on this conference together. I would like to start with the fact that the horrors of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine mark a turning point in German foreign policy. This turning point, or Zeitenwende, as chancellor Olaf Scholz called it, is truly a sea change a sea change in foreign policy, a sea change in security and defense policy, and a sea change in energy and energy policy in Germany. For the first time, the German government is supplying weapons to a warring party, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a plan to spend more than one billion euro to modernize our military force.

The approval is brought not only in the German parliament but also in the German population. The German government has announced on Tuesday that it will always also deliver tanks to the Ukraine. Kiev is only two hours away from berlin by plane the war crimes committed by the Nazi regime against the people of Eastern Europe are part of our collective memory. Those historical memories and seeing that an outside aggressor is bringing death and suffering to the people of Ukraine once again are the reason why Germany fundamentally changed its course of its foreign policy. The German people are doing everything they can to support refugees from Ukraine. So far more than 330,000 refugees have arrived, and the German people are welcoming with open arms.

Putin’s war of aggression also marked the end of an illusion for Germany. The assumption that we can achieve change within Russia and its government through diplomatic engagement and trade has failed. In January 2022, Germany took over the presidency of the G7. We understand that G7 is a group of democracies based on common values and global responsibility. During its one year of G7 presidency, Germany aims to tackle global challenges in a multilateral way together with our partners. We are working towards a global energy transition, a strong post-COVID economy recovery, and the prevention of the next pandemic. The war in Ukraine has dramatically shifted the attention of the G7 in the light of Russia’s unjustifiable unprovoked and illegal aggression against an independent and sovereign Ukraine. Our main objective has become to strengthen and the coordinated action of G7 along with our allies and partners in the world. The G7 nations are bringing together their collective economic weight in order to end the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible. As a result the G7 in coordination with the EU has implemented and is implementing unprecedented sanctions against Russia and Belarus. My colleague, the consul general of France Arnaud Mentré already spoke about this. And of course at the G7 level we also coordinate arms deliveries to Ukraine.

Let me end by saying it has been two months since Russia launched its unprovoked attack against its people and its peaceful neighbor. Faced by the horrifying war crimes committed by Russian troops, the people of Ukraine are fighting back heroically. This war affects the world, the whole world, whether you go along with the sanctions or not, whether you believe in international rule-based order or not.

As one of the largest industrial countries in the world, Germany has a responsibility to Ukraine. Two months after the start of the war, the crimes committed by Russia continue to dominate every headline in Germany. The German people are watching, and we are horrified by the suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people. We are determined to work with our partners and allies to end this war as quickly as possible by imposing the heaviest possible sanctions on Russia and sending civilian and military aid to Ukraine. At the same time, Germany is addressing the humanitarian crisis by welcoming Ukrainians that needed to flee their own country. We will remain in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and we are taking a long-term perspective on assisting Ukraine with military defense. I can also assure you that Germany will take a leading role in rebuilding Ukraine. Thank you.