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Berlin not party to the conflict in Ukraine, says German new defense chief

"Security is the basic need of the people," Boris Pistorius stressed
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius AP Photo/Michael Sohn
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius
© AP Photo/Michael Sohn

BERLIN, January 19. /TASS/. Germany is not a party to the conflict in Ukraine but it will continue to provide Kiev with the necessary military assistance, Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Thursday in Berlin, speaking to reporters after being sworn in.

"Germany is not a participant of the conflict, but despite that, we are affected by it," Pistorius said. "It is a challenge to the security system of our country. It is important now to make the Bundeswehr strong promptly, it is about deterrence, effectiveness and readiness," he said. "At the same time, it is important first and foremost to continue supporting Ukraine, including with materiel of the Bundeswehr," the new minister added.

"These are not normal times, we have a war raging in Europe," he said. Pistorius said the interests of the German army had been neglected in recent decades. "The current German government has stopped it," the politician said, adding that he sees his task in improving the armed forces and adapting them to the new reality.

"Security is the basic need of the people," Pistorius stressed. "The Bundeswehr plays a key role at a time of epochal change, so my task will be to ensure that the Bundeswehr can provide security for Germany, NATO and the people," he asserted.

On Thursday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented him with a letter of appointment as Defense Minister, and then Pistorius was sworn in at the Bundestag (the German parliament). He succeeded Christine Lambrecht, who had voluntarily stepped down. Pistorius will meet US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday. On January 20, Pistorius will represent Germany at a meeting of Western defense ministers at Ramstein Air Base to discuss further assistance to Ukraine, especially the transfer of German Leopard tanks to Kiev.