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German leader says Europe must keep increasing aid to Ukraine after US approves new military help

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday that Europe must continue to step up its help for Ukraine even after the approval of a big U.S. aid package, but made clear that he’s sticking to his refusal to send Taurus long-range cruise missiles to Kyiv.

Scholz spoke after meeting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Berlin. The two countries are Europe’s biggest suppliers of military assistance to Ukraine as it counters Russia’s full-scale invasion, and both vowed to keep that up “for as long as it takes.”

Ukraine’s cause was boosted this week by the approval in Congress of a $61 billion U.S. military aid package that had been held up 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 examine whether they can spare one.

Still, asked whether he will reverse his often-criticized refusal to send Taurus missiles, Scholz listed at length the military hardware Germany has provided and added: “As far as the weapons system you mention is concerned, my decision won’t change.”

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

Sunak, who on Tuesday pledged new military aid to Ukraine, praised Germany’s efforts on air defense in particular and said “every country has got different things that it can bring to the table.”

Ukrainian troops have faced acute shortages of shells and air defense 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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