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German President says armed forces must protect nation, pledges support to Ukraine

BERLIN (Reuters) – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier promised further military support to Ukraine on Thursday and warned the incoming defence minister that Germany’s armed forces must once again become capable of protecting the nation.

Social Democrat Boris Pistorius was officially made minister on Thursday, at a time when Germany is under growing pressure from Western allies to allow German-made battle tanks to be used in Ukraine to strengthen its defence against Russia’s invasion.

Pistorius is due to meet his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin later on Thursday and on Friday defence leaders from around 50 countries and NATO gather at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base to discuss how to supply Kyiv with more weapons.

A German government source has told Reuters that Berlin will only allow German-made tanks to be sent to Ukraine if the United States agrees to send its own tanks.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has destroyed Europe’s security order, Steinmeier said at a ceremony to appoint Pistorius. The role of German president is largely ceremonial.

Steinmeier stressed that Germany would continue to support Ukraine militarily and would help “in the reconstruction of a battered country”.

“Germany is not at war, but the years of the peace dividend from which we Germans have benefited so long and abundantly are over,” Steinmeier said.

“We have to respond to threats that also target us,” he said.

Pistorius takes over from Christine Lambrecht, who after a series of blunders, announced her resignation on Monday.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Madeline Chambers, editing by Rachel More and Frank Jack Daniel)

Source: The Star

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