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Germany's Scholz urges Europe to do more for Ukraine as UK PM ups defence spending

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attend a press conference in Berlin, Germany
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attend a press conference in Berlin, Germany Copyright Alastair Grant/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Alastair Grant/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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A meeting between the British and German leaders made for a show of unity even as disagreements on how to help Ukraine persist.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday Europe must step up help for Ukraine – but stuck to his refusal to send long-range Taurus cruise missiles to Kyiv.

Scholz spoke after meeting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Berlin, shortly after his counterpart announced the UK will increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the decade.

The two countries are Europe's biggest suppliers of military assistance to Ukraine as it counters Russia's full-scale invasion. Both vowed to keep that up "for as long as it takes". 

Ukraine's cause was boosted this week when the US Congress finally approved a $61 billion (€57 billion) military aid package that was delayed for months. Scholz described it as "an encouraging and necessary signal".

"But I also want to say clearly that the United States' decision doesn't release us here in Europe from the task of further expanding our support for Ukraine so that the country can defend itself against the aggressor," he said.

Scholz, whose country recently pledged to supply a third Patriot missile battery to Ukraine, appealed again for other European countries that have the system to consider whether they can spare one.

Nonetheless, asked whether he will reverse his often-criticised refusal to send Taurus long-range missiles, Scholz listed at length the military hardware Germany has provided. 

"As far as the weapons system you mention is concerned, my decision won't change," he added.

Scholz has argued that Taurus missiles could only be used responsibly with the involvement of German soldiers, whether inside or outside Ukraine - a line he doesn't want to cross.

Sunak, who on Tuesday pledged new military aid to Ukraine, praised Germany's efforts on air defence in particular. 

"Every country has got different things that it can bring to the table," he added. 

Ukrainian troops have faced acute shortages of shells and air defence systems, allowing Russian forces to edge forward in some parts of eastern Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded for greater international assistance, warning that his country will lose the war without it.

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