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Germany offers aid to businesses hit by war in Ukraine

BERLIN (AP) – The German government on Friday unveiled a package of loans and other financial assistance to help companies hit hard by the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.

The package includes loans of as much as EUR100 billion to cover the credit risks taken by Germany’s energy industry as the country scrambles to replace imports of Russian oil, gas and coal.

Affected companies will also be able to apply for limited grants to cover increased energy costs.

Additional loans will also be made available to companies grappling with a liquidity squeeze.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the package was necessary because “there are companies and sectors that won’t survive this period if we don’t help them”.

But he acknowledged that the measures won’t undo all of the damage done by measures including sanctions European nations have imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“The truth is that there are no sanctions that don’t have economic consequences in this country,” he said.

Separately, the government agreed late Thursday to provide states with EUR2 billion to pay for housing, healthcare, schooling and other assistance for Ukrainian refugees. Germany has so far taken in 320,000 Ukrainians since the start of the war on February 24. Many have flocked to the big cities, with at least 50,000 Ukrainians settling in Berlin alone.

Leading Left Party Lawmaker Dietmar Bartsch urged for greater efforts to seize the wealth of Russian oligarchs in Germany to help pay for the cost of the refugee influx.

“Those who profit from and support Putin’s system should be drawn on financially to pay for hosting refugees in Germany,” he told daily Rheinischen Post in an interview published on Friday.

Federal Minister for the Economy and Climate Protection Robert Habeck and Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner at a press conference in Berlin, Germany. PHOTO: AP