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Germany and China argue over western arms to Ukraine

The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, clashed with Chinese diplomats on Thursday, passionately rejecting their claim that the west was adding fuel to the fire by arming Ukraine.

Baerbock said it was time for China to tell Russia to stop its aggression.

In a debate at the UN general assembly marking the anniversary of the invasion and seen as a key barometer of the state of world opinion, China intervened to present itself as above the conflict by proposing a catalogue of measures: a ceasefire, dialogue, security guarantees for Russia, protection of civilians and the upholding of territorial integrity.

The deputy Chinese envoy to the UN, Dai Bing, insisted the west was worsening the situation by arming Ukraine, saying: “Adding fuel to the fire will only exacerbate tensions”.

His remarks provoked Baerbock into a powerful rebuttal rejecting his claim that the west was indulging in military spending at the expense of other priorities more important to ordinary people.

She asked: “Why on earth would we do that?”, adding: “We did not want this war. We did not choose this war.” She said her government “would much rather focus every bit of our energy and money in fixing our schools, in fighting the climate crisis and strengthening social justice”, adding: “The truth is that if Russia stops fighting, the war will end, If Ukraine stops this fighting, Ukraine ends.”

She said the suffering, including “abduction, rape and torture”, would continue every day, and that the world’s gaping wounds, caused by hunger, inflation and energy shortages, would not end.

Every country, she argued, had a duty to send a clear signal that the war was coming to an end. Addressing the 30 to 40 countries likely to abstain from the resolution, including China, India and South Africa, she noted: “Today each of us has to make a decision to stand in isolation with the oppressor or stand together for peace.”

She said there was a peace plan for Ukraine, and it was called the UN charter with its principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity and the non-use of force.

“Every single one of us today has the opportunity to contribute to this peace plan by telling the aggressor to stop”.

With Iran again saying it will abstain, it looks as if Russia will gain support, as opposed to an abstention, only from Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria and Belarus. Last time a comparable vote was held 35 states abstained, including 18 in Africa.

The debate was dominated by European voices, with few of the African nations planning to abstain coming forward to explain their thinking. The French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, appealed directly to the likely abstainers, saying the war was “everyone’s business” and stressing: “Neutrality can amount to complicity with the aggressor.” She said our common duty was to stop to excessive violence, adding: “None of would be able to sleep easy in a world when a great power can at its own discretion attack its neighbours.”

source: theguardian