One year after the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine: A historic turning point for internal security too
02 March 2023
Overview of the security situation in Germany, the influx of refugees, relief provided to Ukraine and support for Ukrainian police work
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said: “Putin’s criminal war of aggression against Ukraine has changed everything. One thing was clear to us from the very beginning: We will stand with Ukrainians. We will provide assistance where it is needed. This is a humanitarian imperative. We have brought almost 400 transports of aid to Ukraine. This is the greatest logistical achievement in the history of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief. I am sincerely grateful to the many volunteers who have contributed to this effort. I also thank the Federal Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office for the extensive support they have provided to Ukraine in the form of equipment for police work and forensics, including equipment for investigating war crimes.
We are providing support for the Ukrainian fire services, emergency medical services and civil protection. This winter, we have delivered almost 400 generators and additional technology – and, in doing so, have helped Ukraine to withstand the massive attacks on its energy infrastructure.
Russia’s war of aggression has triggered the largest wave of refugees in Europe since the Second World War. Most of those who have found refuge in Germany from Putin’s attacks are women and children. Taking in more than a million people in such a short period has been a tremendous humanitarian feat – and has presented major challenges to our cities and towns. Yet our society continues to show an extraordinary willingness to help. Together, we will be able to keep making such a great effort.”
Within the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community is coordinating the response to the domestic policy impacts of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, acting as a link between the federal and state levels. Its work focuses on internal security, taking in and integrating refugees and coordinating aid to Ukraine.
1 The security situation in Germany
The war has heightened the security situation in Germany, especially in the areas of Russian state-sponsored interference and disinformation, cyber security and critical infrastructure.
State-sponsored interference and disinformation
Russian official sources and state-sponsored and state-aligned media, as well as pro-Kremlin accounts on social media, spread a large volume of disinformation to influence public opinion and stoke social divisions. These sources continue to draw on the familiar Russian narratives: denigrating Ukraine, framing Western countries as warmongers, etc. Russian rhetoric has grown increasingly aggressive.
Shortly after the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, a special task force of the interministerial working group on hybrid threats was formed under the lead responsibility of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community. The task force’s work focuses on measures to identify Russian narratives, strengthen fact-based communication and increase societal resilience to hybrid threats.
In Germany, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has increased the threat of cyber attacks. Additionally, spillover effects and collateral damage with impacts on Germany are possible and in some cases have already occurred. The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) provides helpful information and tips for implementing cyber security measures.
Protests and radicalisation
Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression, protests have taken place regularly, focusing not only on the war itself, but also on related issues such as the energy crisis and price increases. Right-wing extremists are frequently able to exert a noticeable influence on demonstrations attended by people with wide-ranging ideologies. Currently, the planned delivery of battle tanks to Ukraine has (once again) made the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine a dominant issue among right-wing extremists and others who seek to undermine the legitimacy of democracy. Among left-wing extremists, “anti-militarism” has assumed growing importance since Russia’s war of aggression began. During the war, violence-prone left-wing extremists have become particularly focused on defence companies, the Bundeswehr and political parties.
The safety of women and children who have fled Ukraine is a top priority. Together with the federal states, cities and towns and civil society, Germany’s Federal Government has been working intensively since the beginning of the war to counter exploitation and human trafficking, especially of women and children.
At least since the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, the vulnerability of critical infrastructure has been starkly evident. Under the lead responsibility of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community, a new federal-level Joint Coordinating Task Force for critical infrastructure has been established. All relevant federal ministries and the Federal Chancellery contribute to it. On 7 December 2022, the Federal Cabinet adopted an outline for an umbrella act for critical infrastructure protection (KRITIS-Dachgesetz). The umbrella act for critical infrastructure protection is the first law to address the entire system of physical protection of critical infrastructure in Germany, and will regulate this system within the scope of federal-level responsibilities.
2. Refugee influx due to the Russian war of aggression
Around 1,066,000 people who have fled Ukraine since 24 February 2022 due to the Russian war of aggression are currently living in Germany. According to the Central Register of Foreigners, 9% of them are children aged five and under, 25% are children and teenagers between the ages of 6 and 17, 58% are adults aged 63 and under, and 8% are adults aged 64 or older. 62% of the refugees are female and 38% are male.
Taking in, housing and providing for these refugees is a joint effort that poses major challenges to federal, state and local governments. All levels of government are acting in close coordination and working side-by-side.
- The Federal Government and the federal states agreed for the Federal Government to provide 4.4 billion euros in support to the federal states and municipalities in 2022. For 2023, they have agreed on an additional 2.75 billion euros in support.
- Since the beginning of the war, the Federal Government has also supported the state and local governments by making federal properties available rent-free to house people seeking protection. Currently, the federal states, rural districts and municipalities are using a total of 333 properties with capacity for almost 69,000 people free of charge.
- Refugees from Ukraine are entitled to basic security benefits. The Federal Government largely assumes the costs of these benefits. Ukrainian refugees have also been granted the opportunity for rapid integration into the labour market.
Through a “migration dashboard”, the Federal Government offers the state and local governments a reliable assessment of the current situation and enables them to make forward-looking plans for housing refugees.
- Additionally, the Federal Government has provided the state and local levels with administrative assistance – for example, through the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), the Bundeswehr and the Federal Police.
Residence and integration
- In 2022, the number of new participants in integration courses increased rapidly, from some 100,000 per year in 2020 and 2021 to almost 340,000 in 2022.
- On the website Germany4Ukraine.de, people fleeing Ukraine can find information about entering Germany, staying here and registering for services. The accompanying app has so far been downloaded 68,691 times.
- The initiative #UnterkunftUkraine has connected more than 58,000 refugees with private accommodation.
3. Aid provided by Germany
The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) coordinates all responses to requests for assistance made through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief and the BBK manage deliveries of relief supplies. To date, Germany has made 397 deliveries of relief supplies (386 for Ukraine and the others to neighbouring countries). Around 172 million euros’ worth of aid has been provided so far (including large donations, primarily medical supplies, medications, vans and other motor vehicles, CBRN countermeasures and support for the energy sector).
Relief provided by the Federal Agency for Technical Relief during Russia’s war of aggression against all of Ukraine is the greatest logistical achievement in the Agency’s history. In 2022, the Agency procured more than 79 million euros’ worth of relief supplies for Ukraine. An additional 20 million euros in special funding is available to the Agency for 2023 and has already been budgeted. To support Ukraine in the energy sector and to provide winter aid, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief has:
- delivered 399 generators and 10 battery storage systems with a total value of 14.7 million euros. Thirty-nine generators are being prepared for delivery and another 267 generators and 10 battery storage systems are being procured.
- 43 oil heaters have been delivered to Ukraine, and an additional 100 heaters are being procured. Seven field kitchens, two large heated tents and one multi-purpose hall have been delivered to Ukraine.
- Further support is being provided in the form of living and sanitary cabins, camp beds, army frame tents, blankets and sleeping bags.
The Joint Information and Situation Centre of the Federal Government and the federal states, which is located at the BBK, coordinates the transfer of patients from Ukraine to Germany. To date, 647 Ukrainian patients have arrived in Germany for treatment.
4. Support for police work and forensics
In 2022, the Federal Criminal Police Office procured goods valued at more than 11.5 million euros for partner agencies in Ukraine to support forensic work to investigate potential war crimes. In particular, these goods included equipment for documentation and securing physical evidence, bomb-disposal equipment, vehicles and other operational supplies.
The Federal Police have been supporting the Ukrainian security agencies since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression. In 2022, they provided more than 20 million euros’ worth of support. This included thermal imaging cameras and night vision devices, protective vests and armoured vehicles.
For 2023, additional support from the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Police is planned.