German Interior Minister proposes visa ban for Russian athletes

Nancy Faeser says that if Russian and Belarusian athletes are once again allowed to compete in international competitions, they may be banned from entering the country to attend competitions on German soil.

German interior minister Nancy Faeser
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser says a 2036 Olympics hosted in Berlin would have to be dealt with in a special way. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having now recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes be allowed back into international competitions again, Faeser is criticizing the sports body — calling the recommendation “unacceptable” for Ukrainian athletes.

Although Germany cannot contest the IOC recommendation itself, or those other athletic governing bodies make, Faeser says a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from entering the country would stop them from being able to attend competitions taking place here.

“Countries in which major sporting events take place are not powerless,” the Interior Minister told Germany’s Funke group of newspapers, saying Ukrainian athletes should not have to face off against competitors from a country that is engaged in a war against Ukrainian civilians. “Offering the warmonger Putin a propaganda stage would betray all values of the sport.”

The IOC has put conditions on Russian and Belarusian athletes returning to competition, saying they must not be connected to Russian security agencies or the military, and must compete under a neutral flag with no national anthem.

READ ALSO: Germany to open Olympic bases to Ukrainian athletes

However, international sporting federations are divided on the issue. The World Wrestling Association and World Gymnastics Federation argue Russian and Belarusian athletes should be readmitted. Governing bodies for athletics and equestrian say the athletes should remain barred from competing.

Regardless of what individual sporting federations decide, Faeser says Germany will still look at visa bans for Russian and Belarusian athletes.

“If we organize international competitions in Germany, then we can act accordingly,” Faeser said. “We will always act with a clear stance here.”

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Germany unveils new Ukraine package before key talks

Germany will give another €400 million of weapons and aid to Ukraine as it fights back against Russia, Berlin said Monday, ahead of key talks among Kyiv's allies.

Germany unveils new Ukraine package before key talks

“We are supplying additional ammunition,” Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told top German tabloid Bild, a day before the talks at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“Ammunition is what Ukraine needs most in its defensive struggle against the brutal war of aggression.

“In addition, we will help with armoured vehicles and mine-clearing systems,” he said, adding that, with winter approaching, the supplies will include clothing and power generators.

“In total, the package will be worth €400 million.”

Pistorius added he would have to skip the Ramstein talks himself after contracting the coronavirus.

The package did not include long-range Taurus cruise missiles — a weapon Ukraine has been pleading for, but which Berlin has so far refused to provide.

The decision was “not easy”, the minister said. “A multitude of political, legal, military and technical aspects have to be clarified.”

READ ALSO: Ukraine says Germany ‘wasting time’ on missile decision

Tuesday’s talks will be the latest to be held by Kyiv’s allies in Ramstein to coordinate support, and will bring together representatives from more than 50 countries including the United States.

They come as Ukraine pushes on with its grinding counteroffensive, which has so far made limited gains.

After the Russian invasion, Germany dropped a traditionally pacifist stance to funnel weapons to Ukraine, and has become Kyiv’s second biggest supplier of arms.

Berlin has regularly announced new packages of weapons and other supplies for Ukraine and earlier this year dropped resistance to Kyiv receiving German-made, heavy Leopard tanks.

In July, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will have supplied Ukraine with around €17 billion in military assistance by 2027.