German Chancellor urges more air defence for Ukraine at Berlin conference

by IANS |

Berlin, June 11 (IANS/DPA) At an international reconstruction conference for Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for a further strengthening of the country's air defence against Russian attacks.

He called on allies to support a German initiative to bolster Ukraine's air defence "with everything possible."

"Because the best reconstruction is the one that doesn't have to happen in the first place," Scholz said at the start of the conference, which is being held in the German capital of Berlin.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is also attending the conference.

Scholz held out the prospect of far-reaching and long-term commitments for reconstruction in the country, which has been severely scarred by more than two years of costly all-out war and years of simmering conflict before that.

Scholz said he will push for those kinds of commitments at an upcoming summit of the G7 group of wealthy democratic countries, which begins in Italy on Thursday.

The chancellor pointed out that the World Bank estimates that $500 billion in reconstruction aid will be needed over the next decade.

He also called on private companies to participate in investments: "In view of the scale we are talking about here, private capital must be added."

Hundreds of German companies continue to do active business in Ukraine, with automotive firms alone employing about 35,000 people in Ukraine, Scholz emphasised.

Despite the war, there was no reduction in German investment in Ukraine, Scholz said, and the volume of trade had significantly increased since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

"All of this shows that the business sector understands Ukraine's potential," Scholz said.

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