Berlin does its best to help Ukraine, but burden can't fall on all Europeans – formin

  • 2022-04-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Berlin is doing all it can to help Ukraine in the face of Russia's continued aggression, but the burden of war cannot be placed on the shoulders of all Europeans, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in Vilnius on Friday.

"We want to and will do everything to support Ukraine [and] to help it to the best of our ability," she told reporters.

However, Germany's top diplomat added that there is "a bitter reality" to be faced.

"We have a responsibility to prevent the war from falling on the shoulders of 450 million EU citizens, so we are talking about individual steps," she said. 

Central and Eastern European countries are calling for EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas, but Germany and other member countries that are dependent on Russian energy resources are blocking these efforts.  

However, Baerbock said earlier this week that her country intends to stop importing Russian oil by the end of the year.  

"We have a plan to phase out oil by the end of the year, together with other EU countries," she said.

According to the German foreign minister, it would be difficult to cut off oil imports from Russia immediately, because that would affect product and fuel prices across Europe.

"I don't think you should promise things you can't deliver," she said. 

In Baerbock's words, this has to be done consistently and "for good".

However, she did not say if the bloc's sixth package of sanctions might include an embargo on Russian oil.

The German foreign minister added that her country will eventually wean itself off Russian gas, but did not specify by when it could do so. 

Baerbock said the EU will continue to press Russia until Ukraine is free and secure.

"There cannot be a ceasefire at any price. We will not accept a dictatorial peace," she said. "Only Ukrainians can decide on their future."   

In recent years, Berlin has drawn a great deal of criticism from Central and Eastern European countries over its close economic ties with Moscow, especially over Nord Stream 2, a German-Russian gas pipeline whose launch was suspended in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Berlin's lack of leadership in putting pressure on Moscow has prompted several protests outside the German embassy in Vilnius in the past month.