Ukraine praised what it called a “historical turning point”, as German Foreign Minister Annalena Bock visited Kyiv Tuesday to support Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union and cut energy ties with Russia.
Baerbock, the highest-ranking German government official who has visited Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2004, was trying to repair ties between the two countries after they had fought over issues like weapons supplies and the roll-out of sanctions.
Germany has supported an embargo against Russian oil. Baerbock stated that Germany aimed to reduce its imports to zero of Russian energy and that it would “stay that way forever”.
Baerbock announced, following the lead of Britain and the United States, the reopening in Ukraine of the German Embassy. This is a symbolic vote to show confidence in the country’s diplomats who were evacuated earlier.
Baerbock visited her Dutch counterpart and said that 12 Howitzers would be supplied to Ukraine. Training on how to operate them would also begin immediately.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, stated that Germany’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is historic.
“I want to thank Germany for changing their position on several questions. He said that the first Russia rocket had hit Kyiv on 24 February and also struck Germany’s old Russia policy.”
He gave two examples: Germany’s change in stance on arms supplies and its support of the oil embargo.
Baerbock made his first stop in Bucha, Kyiv. There, Russian forces were accused of atrocities which Western countries consider war crimes.
Moscow, which repeatedly denies targeting civilians in its “special operation” in Ukraine has described claims that its forces executed civilians while it occupied Bucha as a “monstrous fraud” to denigrate the army.
Baerbock, the general prosecutor of Ukraine, visited Bucha and stated that those responsible for Bucha’s murders should be tried.
She said that this is what she owed to the victims, in a church where full-body bags and photos of corpses were displayed. “And these victims, it is very clear that you can feel this here very strongly, these victims could have also been us.”
Later, she said that the town was a symbol of “unimaginable crimes”, such as torture and rape or murder. This place seems far away from the unimaginable. Then you realize that Bucha is a normal, peaceful suburb. It could have happened to anyone.
Relations between Berlin and Kyiv have been difficult. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was reluctant to visit Ukraine because Kyiv refused to receive Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German President.
Steinmeier is Scholz’s Social Democrat ally and is not popular in Kyiv as he is associated with a German policy of pursuing close trade ties with Putin’s Russia.
Andriy Melnyk from Ukraine, the outspoken ambassador to Berlin, called Scholz’s reasons an “offended liver sausage”, suggesting that he was acting like a petulant child.
After being invited by Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian President, Scholz now plans to go on a trip.