Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko praises Germany for support

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Former world boxing heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko stands at a residential district that was damaged by shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

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BERLIN, April 2 (Reuters) - Wladimir Klitschko, a Ukrainian former boxing champion whose brother is the mayor of Kyiv, heaped praise on Germany for its help after meeting officials in Berlin in an effort to drum up more support for his country.

Klitschko and his brother Vitali, also a former boxing star, have strong ties to Germany, having spent most of their professional careers there. But they have previously accused Berlin of failing to do enough to help Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion.

In a video shot outside the Bundestag and posted on his Twitter feed, Wladimir Klitschko said he had been able to see for himself during his two-day visit that the two nations were "truly brothers and sisters figuratively now" and he would never forget Germany's support.

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The German government has made several policy U-turns in the last six weeks, agreeing to send Ukraine weapons, suspending a gas pipeline project with Russia that bypassed the former Soviet state, and vowing to boost defence spending. read more

During the visit by Wladimir Klitschko, who enlisted in the Ukrainian reserve army shortly before war broke out, German media showed pictures of him meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the foreign, finance and economy ministers.

"Klitschko and his delegation brought the Ukrainian fighting spirit that reaches us in countless images every day into the foreign ministry," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote on Instagram. "For the government and me it is clear: we will continue to support Ukraine with all our force."

Klitschko's praise contrasted with ongoing criticism of Germany from the Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin Andrij Melnyk, who on Saturday criticised it for resisting a European embargo on Russian energy imports.

"When will the cruel actions against Ukrainian civilians be bad enough for Germany to finally turn off war criminal (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's money tap and impose an embargo for oil, gas, coal and metal? How long will you still hesitate?" he said in a tweet he addressed to the federal government.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a "special military operation" to demilitarise and "denazify" its neighbour.

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Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Andreas Rinke Editing by Frances Kerry

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