Status: 04.04.2022 14:24 hrs

Former German Chancellor Merkel has defended her 2008 decision not to admit Ukraine to NATO. Since the start of the war, Russians and Ukrainians appear to be increasingly hostile in Germany. All developments in the liveblog.

2:24 p.m.

UN high commissioner calls for investigation of Butscha

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for independent investigations into possible war crimes against civilians in the Ukrainian town of Butscha. “Everything should be done to secure evidence,” the High Commissioner said in Geneva. All bodies should be exhumed, identified and examined. Reports from Butscha and other areas would raise “serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes” and other rights violations, Bachelet said. “For truth, justice and accountability, everything must be done to independently and successfully investigate what happened in Butscha.” She called for compensation and reparations for victims and their families.

2:17 p.m.

Majority of refugees live in big cities

A total of 42 percent of Ukrainian refugees in Germany currently live in a major city with more than half a million inhabitants, according to a survey. Most of the refugees (14 percent) are staying in Berlin, according to a survey conducted by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. A total of five percent are staying in Munich and three percent in Hamburg, it said. According to the survey, more than 500 different places in Germany were named.

As the main reasons for choosing their current place of residence, people said that friends or relatives lived there or that it was the best place for them to find work. About a quarter of respondents (24 percent) reportedly currently live with friends, 22 percent in another private residence and 19 percent with relatives.

According to the survey, 42 percent of Ukraine refugees basically want to stay in their current location, while 19 percent have no further plans yet. Almost one-third of the respondents expect to return to Ukraine soon, he said.

2:13 p.m.

Ukrainian defense minister: “Evil must not go unpunished”

Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexiy Resnikov has accused the Russian army of a massacre of civilians in the Ukrainian village of Butsha and threatened retaliation. “Such evil must not go unpunished,” he said in Kiev on Monday. “Our reconnaissance systematically identifies all invaders and murderers. All of them. Everyone will get what they ‘deserve’ in their own time,” the statement posted on Facebook said.

The images from the Kiev suburb with bodies on the streets have caused international outrage since Sunday. Resnikov blamed the Russian units that had occupied the place for weeks. He compared their actions to those of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) in Ukraine during World War II. He also drew a parallel with the civil war in Yugoslavia: more people had been killed in Butscha than in Vukovar. In 1991, more than 250 civilians and prisoners of war had been murdered in the Croatian town of Vukovar by Serb forces and the Yugoslav army.

In Butchan about 340 bodies have been found so far, Ukrajinska Pravda reported, citing local funeral homes. Russia denies atrocities against civilians there and speaks of Ukrainian falsification.


Italy will not veto gas sanctions

Italy is ready to take far-reaching measures against Russia’s energy sector, according to Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. “Italy will not veto sanctions against Russian gas,” the politician said at an appointment in Zagreb, Italian news agency Ansa reported. Di Maio had already said in a TV broadcast on Sunday evening that negotiations were underway on the future import of oil and natural gas. “There will be no veto from Italy on a fifth sanctions package.”

The images and reports of civilians killed in the Kiev suburb of Butcha would further intensify and accelerate the EU and Western partners’ action against Russia, Di Maio speculated. He said he believed a first part of the package could be decided as early as next Monday at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. Italy gets about 40 percent of its gas needs from Russia.

2:06 p.m.

Red Cross again cancels trip to Mariupol

The International Red Cross has again abandoned an attempt to reach the heavily contested port city of Mariupol. This was not possible for security reasons, spokesman Jason Straziuso announced. Already in recent days, aid convoys had to turn back several times because agreed ceasefires were not respected. Russia and Ukraine hold each other responsible for this. In Mariupol, the humanitarian situation is becoming increasingly tense, with a lack of water, food and medicine, among other things.


Kremlin spokesman: “Rejects all accusations”

Following the discovery of dozens of bodies in the Ukrainian village of Butcha, the Kremlin has vehemently rejected accusations against Russian troops. “We categorically reject all accusations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax agency. At the same time, he warned international politicians against hastily assigning blame. All sides must be heard, he said.

Pictures of residents of the small town near Kiev, whose bodies lay in the streets after Russian troops withdrew, have been causing horror around the world since the weekend. The Ukrainian side blames Russian soldiers for the crimes. Peskov said the case must be discussed at the highest level in the UN Security Council. He criticized the fact that an initiative to that effect had been blocked. At the same time, Peskov continued to question the authenticity of the numerous photographs of the dead civilians.

Ukrainian prosecutor’s office investigates possible war crimes while Russia denies

Jens Eberl, WDR, tagesschau 12:00, 4/4/2022


Sanctions difficult to implement in real estate sector

Germany is having a hard time enforcing sanctions against Russian citizens. In the real estate sector, it often already fails because people in this country don’t know exactly what belongs to whom, shows a rbb24 research using the example of Berlin.

1:37 p.m.

EU prepares new Russia sanctions

The EU is working nAccording to the EU’s foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell, the EU is working under high pressure on new punitive measures against Russia. “We stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in these dark hours,” the Spaniard announced following reports of atrocities in the town of Butscha. He said the EU will continue to provide strong support to Ukraine and will press ahead with work on additional sanctions against Russia as a matter of urgency.

Borrell did not say what punitive measures were being prepared or when they would be decided. As always, work on sanctions is confidential, a spokesman said.

1:30 p.m.

Söder calls for dismissal of defense minister Lambrecht

CSU leader Markus Söder has called Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht “completely out of her depth” in connection with the supply of weapons to Ukraine. “This is an embarrassment, how Germany is presented here in the issue,” Söder told reporters after a meeting of the CSU executive board in Munich. At the meeting, Söder called for Lambrecht to be replaced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to participants. “Scholz would actually have to make a cabinet rochade,” Söder said at the meeting, according to the Bild newspaper; participants confirmed the statement when asked.

Because of hesitant or omitted arms deliveries to Ukraine, Lambrecht had recently been criticized from several sides. The Greens, as coalition partners in the federal government, also criticized the minister. Söder said Germany must finally do the same as its allies. “We must and can supply just as many weapons as everyone else.” Everything that goes without becoming a war party must be supplied, the CSU leader demanded.

1:15 p.m.

Henkel Group holds on to Russia business

Consumer goods group Henkel is maintaining its Russian business. “A halt to our Russian business could have far-reaching consequences. Also for our local employees,” CEO Carsten Knobel said at the virtual annual general meeting, according to the text of the speech. He added that the company had a responsibility for 2,500 employees. In Russia, he said, there is a risk that foreign companies could be expropriated by the government in the future. “And their local managers being held liable if they stop doing business,” Knobel added.

Henkel is currently continuing production and sales in Russia, according to Knobel. “These are mainly products for daily use. For example, cleaning and hygiene products.” Knobel stressed that Henkel is “consistently implementing all international sanctions against Russia.” All advertising had ceased, he said, and all sponsorship activities had been terminated. All planned investments in Russia had also been halted, he said. Knobel said Henkel was following developments with the utmost attention. “And we are not ruling out further steps.” However, he added, Henkel would not make any “frivolous decisions.”

12:40 p.m.

Russian judiciary investigates Butsha over ‘false reports’

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a case over the spread of alleged false reports of killings of civilians in the small Ukrainian town of Butscha. Russia’s chief investigator Alexander Bastrykin had instructed the agency toto criminally assess the “provocation on the part of Ukraine,” the Investigative Committee announced on its Telegram channel. Russia denies that its military killed civilians in Butcha, near Kiev, and left the bodies on the streets.

The investigation is not about the internationally condemned crime, but about the publication of relevant messages. Defamation of the Russian army is punishable by law in the country. Earlier in March, the Russian State Duma had passed a controversial law criminalizing “false news” about actions of the Russian military abroad.

12:37 p.m.

German government rejects criticism of President Steinmeier

The German government has rejected sharp criticism of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier by Ukrainian Ambassador Andrij Melnyk. Deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner said in response to a question to that effect that although there was understanding for the exceptional situation in which Ukraine found itself in this horrific war. “We reject the criticism of the German president,” he added, however.

Melnyk had accused Steinmeier of political closeness to Russia in a “Tagesspiegel” interview. “For Steinmeier, the relationship with Russia was and remains something fundamental, even sacred, no matter what happens. Even the war of aggression does not play a big role in that,” he said. Germany continues to have too many vested interests with regard to Russia, he said, such as its dependence on gas, oil and coal.

Steinmeier’s actions as head of the chancellor’s office and later as foreign minister were also to blame, he said. “Steinmeier has been weaving a spider web of contacts with Russia for decades. Many people are involved in this who are now calling the shots in the traffic light,” he said.

12:33 p.m.

German government warns of Russian “disinformation campaign”

The German government has urged people with Russian roots living in Germany to inform themselves intensively about the war in Ukraine. “The federal government asks Russian-speaking people in Germany to inform themselves comprehensively in the various national and international media,” deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner said. “No one should believe the disinformation campaign of the Russian state media with its cynical and trivializing portrayals,” he added.

About 900 people had taken part in a motorcade with Russian flags in Berlin on Sunday. The procession, which included several hundred vehicles, was registered as an event titled “No propaganda in school – protection for Russian-speaking people, no discrimination,” according to Berlin police. It was important to the Federal Ministry of the Interior “that this war not be allowed to enter our society,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Maximilian Kall.

12:31 p.m.

EU provides money for refugees

EU states can use up to 17 billion euros from the European Community budget to receive and support war refugees from Ukraine.

The decision of the Council of Ministers allows money to be reallocated from the so-called Cohesion Fund and an aid fund for disadvantaged people. In addition, funds from

s from the Regional Development Fund and the Social Fund can be used to address the refugee crisis, according to the Member States’ representation.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 4.2 million people have already left the country since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. A large number of them currently live in EU countries such as Poland and Romania.

12:24 p.m.

Putin congratulates Orban on election victory

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Hungarian head of government Viktor Orban on his victory in the parliamentary election. In doing so, Putin said he was “confident that the future development of bilateral and partnership relations will correspond to the interests of the peoples of Russia and Hungary, despite the difficult international situation.”

Since the start of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, many countries, especially Western ones, have turned away from Russia. Orban is one of the few politicians in the…

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