German party leader promises to cut benefits, send Ukrainians home to fight

The Christian Democrats would put the country’s own citizens first, CSU chief Markus Soder has vowed

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) government, should it come to power in Germany, would stop paying Ukrainian nationals social benefits on par with German citizens and would send fighting-age men back to their homeland, a senior party official has said.

CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) are currently in the opposition after ceding power to a three-party coalition headed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in 2021. The potential policy shift was proposed this week by CSU leader Markus Soder, who is also the head of the state of Bavaria. The next federal election will be held no later than in October of next year.

In an interview with the local daily Munchner Merkur published on Thursday, Soder explained how the CDU/CSU government would treat Ukrainian refugees. Among other things, he said it would cut their access to the citizen’s allowance, or Burgergeld, a type of social benefit usually reserved for low-income Germans or EU nationals living in the country.

Ukrainians were granted the privilege, which differs from what asylum-seekers normally get, in May 2022 under a special law. Critics claim that the generous welfare discourages Ukrainians from seeking regular jobs. Soder said that the party had been “skeptical from the beginning,” of the arrangement.

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He also said a CDU/CSU government would send fighting-age Ukrainian men back to their homeland, “if Ukraine asks us to.” Kiev is struggling to replenish the ranks of its military after suffering heavy battlefield losses. Ukrainians residing in EU nations are among the pools of potential targets for forced conscription.

The Ukrainian government has stopped providing consular services to citizens living abroad who fail to come home and report their personal details to conscription officials. The rule was introduced earlier this year under a reform meant to boost mobilization rates.

This month, Vladimir Zelensky announced the creation of a “Ukrainian legion” based in Poland. Ukrainians living in the EU may join the military unit instead of returning home and going through the usual mobilization procedures, he explained.

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The promised perks of volunteering are better training and gear that recruits would get from Western nations, as well as some legal and financial benefits from Warsaw. Polish officials have claimed that thousands have applied to join the legion since the announcement.

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