German Party Leader Proposes Cutting Benefits and Sending Ukrainian Men Back to Fight

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

A senior party official has stated that if the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) government comes to power in Germany, they will stop paying Ukrainian nationals social benefits that are equivalent to those received by German citizens and will send men of fighting age back to their homeland.

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

In an interview published on Thursday in the local daily Munchner Merkur, Soder outlined how the CDU/CSU government would treat Ukrainian refugees. Among other measures, he stated that they would cut off their access to the citizen’s allowance, or Burgergeld, a type of social benefit typically reserved for low-income Germans or EU nationals residing in the country.

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

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

The Ukrainian government has ceased providing consular services to citizens living abroad who fail to return home and report their personal details to conscription officials. This rule was introduced earlier this year under a reform aimed at boosting mobilization rates.

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

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