Ukraine updates: UN decries 'horrific human cost' of war

UN says Russia's war in Ukraine has inflicted immense suffering that will echo through the generations. Meanwhile, Denmark has committed to supporting Kyiv militarily for the next decade

UN official Volker Türk called for thorough and independent investigations into all atrocities. (photo: DW)
UN official Volker Türk called for thorough and independent investigations into all atrocities. (photo: DW)


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says the damage caused by Moscow's invasion of Ukraine will be felt for generations.

Volker Türk was speaking ahead of the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale offensive on Saturday.

The UN says 10,882 people have been killed in conflict-related deaths so far since February 24, 2022.

Meanwhile, Germany's statistics office says significantly fewer people moved to Germany from Ukraine in 2023 than in the previous year.

France's Macron to host Ukraine summit in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to host an international conference in support of Ukraine on Monday, his office said.

"Two years after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, this working meeting will be an opportunity to study ways to boost the cooperation between partners in support to Ukraine," the Elysee palace said.

A number of European leaders and government representatives are expected to attend.

French officials say Macron is determined to send a message to Russia that there is no "Ukraine fatigue" in Europe, despite fears over continued support from Washington.

German MP says he doesn't share Scholz's concerns over Taurus

The German Bundestag on Thursday voted against an opposition motion to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine.

The vote came as Chancellor Olaf Scholz remains reluctant to provide the weapons to Kyiv, amid fears of escalation.

Thomas Silberhorn, a lawmaker from the opposition Christian Social Union (CSU) party, told DW that he doesn't share Scholz's concerns.

"No, I don't share this view of possible escalation because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will escalate when he wants," he said.

"And that's why the decisive action Ukraine needs is to destroy the logistics lines behind the front lines, and therefore long-distance weapons are needed, and Taurus would be a perfect means to do so."

Silberhorn stressed the need to support Ukraine "to the maximum extent," warning that if Kyiv does not prevail, "Putin will continue to follow his imperialistic plans towards the entire European territory."

He also urged Western countries to step up their commitments to Kyiv.

"We all have to understand in the Western world that this attack of Russia against Ukraine is an attack against peace and stability in the entire Western world. And the interest of Putin, of course, is to divide the Western democracies," the CSU lawmaker said.

After rejecting the opposition motion, the Bundestag on Thursday passed another motion put forward by the governing coalition, which called for providing "additional, necessary long-range weapons systems and ammunition" to Ukraine.

UK announces new sanctions against Russia

The UK has announced more than 50 new sanctions against Moscow to mark the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine this weekend.

In a statement, the British Foreign Office said the measures target munitions manufacturers, electronics companies, and diamond and oil traders.

The sanctions aim to "diminish" Russian President Vladimir Putin's weapons arsenal and cut off funding for his war, the statement said.

"Our international economic pressure means Russia cannot afford this illegal invasion," British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said.

The measures come a day after the EU approved its own package of sanctions targeting nearly 200 entities and individuals accused of having a role in Moscow's war.

German lawmakers vote for delivering 'long-range weapons' to Ukraine

The German parliament has voted in favor of a motion put forward by the country's ruling coalition, which called for providing "additional, necessary long-range weapons systems and ammunition" to Ukraine.

The measure, however, did not explicitly mention the delivery of the Taurus cruise missile system to Kyiv.

While 382 lawmakers voted for the motion, 284 rejected it and two abstained.

The vote was held after parliamentarians earlier in the day rejected another, competing motion presented by the opposition center-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) bloc, in which they explicitly urged for the supply of the Taurus cruise missile system to Kyiv.

Bundestag votes against sending Taurus to Ukraine

A majority of German lawmakers voted against an opposition motion to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine.

The motion was put forward by the center-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) bloc.

Only 182 parliamentarians voted in favor of it, while 480 were against. There were 5 abstentions.

Ahead of the vote, opposition leader Friedrich Merz had urged members of the ruling coalition to support the motion.

The ruling alliance, for its part, is putting forward a joint motion calling for the delivery of "additional, necessary long-range weapons systems and ammunition" to Ukraine, without explicitly mentioning Taurus.

Denmark inks 10-year security guarantee with Ukraine

Denmark says it has agreed a decade-long security guarantee with Ukraine after Kyiv signed similar deals with Germany, France, and Britain.

Ukraine has been eager to bolster its security with bilateral agreements ahead of someday joining the NATO defense alliance, and Denmark is one of the country's strongest supporters.

"The agreement means that future military and civilian support will be established in a framework for the next 10 years in a bilateral political agreement," the Danish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the fund would be financed by Denmark's Ukraine Foundation, currently valued at 69.1 billion kroner ($10 billion).

Recent data from the Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy shows that Denmark is the fourth-biggest donor of military aid to Ukraine.

"Denmark is one of the countries supporting Ukraine the most, and I'm proud," Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters.

"The commitments build bridges to Ukraine's future EU and NATO membership," the Danish government said in a statement.

The Danish Defense Ministry has just unveiled its 15th package of military aid to Ukraine, this one worth 1.7 billion kroner.

The country has financed the purchase of 15,000 artillery munitions to be delivered to Ukraine. The package also includes air defense, mine clearance material and drones, with F-16 fighter jets pledged last year set to arrive in the coming months "if everything continues as planned."

Germany sees big dip in Ukrainians seeking refuge

Germany's Federal Statistical Office says far fewer people moved to Germany from Ukraine in 2023 than during the previous year, when Russia launched its full-scale military invasion.

In 2023, 277,000 people arrived to live in Germany from Ukraine and 156,000 moved back, according to the statistical agency's figures, which "results in a net immigration of 121,000 people."

Germany registered 1.1 million Ukrainians arriving in the country in 2022 and 138,000 Ukrainians moving back to Ukraine, meaning that net immigration was 960,000.

Even with the sharp drop last year, the number of Ukrainian immigrants arriving in Germany was much higher than in the years before Russia's full-scale invasion, when the figure was in the single-digit thousands.

Most Ukrainians moving to Germany are women (60%) or children (34%), reflecting Ukrainian law that prevents military-age men from leaving the country during the war.

The population of Ukrainian citizens in Germany grew from 138,000 people in January 2022, just before the full-scale invasion, to 1.15 million in October 2023.

The agency said the proportion of Ukrainians in Germany's total population rose from 0.2% to 1.4% in the same period.

"This makes Ukrainian nationals the second-largest foreign population group in Germany in October 2023 after Turkish nationals [1.6% or 1.39 million]," the agency said.

UN says impact of Russia's war to be 'felt for generations'

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk says Russia's war in Ukraine has inflicted a terrible human cost, causing huge suffering for millions.

Speaking ahead of the second anniversary of the invasion on February 24, 2022, Türk said the damage caused by the war would be felt for decades.

He also repeated his call for Moscow to immediately end the conflict.

"The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation has exacted a horrific human cost, inflicting immense suffering on millions of civilians," Türk said.

The rights chief also called for full and unbiased investigations into all violations of human rights in the war and added that its victims should be afforded reparations.

"Russia's full-scale armed attack on Ukraine, which is about to enter its third year with no end in sight, continues to cause serious and widespread human rights violations, destroying lives and livelihoods," he said.

Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, Türk said, and thousands have lost their homes. Meanwhile, hundreds of hospitals and schools have been damaged or destroyed.

"The long-term impact of this war in Ukraine will be felt for generations," he said.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said in its latest report that it had been able to verify the conflict-related deaths of 10,582 civilians since February 24, 2022.

"The actual numbers are likely significantly higher," it stressed.

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Published: 23 Feb 2024, 8:20 AM