Dhe German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) began her second visit to Kiev within a month by paying tribute to the Ukrainian victims of Stalinist starvation. Baerbock, together with her Ukrainian colleague Dmytro Kuleba, set up red lanterns in a wreath of corn at the memorial to the “Holodomor”, the genocide in Ukraine at the beginning of the 1930s, and let them guide them through the underground exhibition, which uses selected artifacts to provide details of the collectivization and purges caused mass deaths told. During the tour, Kuleba told Baerbock that his great-grandmother also lost her life at the time.
Notwithstanding this gesture of sympathy after her arrival, even before her departure from Germany, Baerbock reiterated her position that the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine could only be resolved without a military confrontation. After the conversation with Kuleba, Baerbock took up the impressions from the memorial and stated that “our grandmothers experienced bad things”. From this derives the task for today’s political actors to do everything so that such violence does not happen again.
The Ukrainian ambassador makes demands on Germany
“It’s about nothing less than peace in Europe,” said Baerbock. To achieve this, “fighting with all our strength and determination must be worth every effort”. The German minister also visited a military hospital in Kiev to draw attention to the support that Berlin is providing to the Ukrainian army beyond arms sales. This includes the delivery of a field hospital worth five million euros and the treatment of almost 150 Ukrainian soldiers and security forces in German hospitals and military hospitals since 2014.
The Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin Andrij Melnik denied on Monday that Germany was doing enough. He said on Deutschlandfunk that “Ukraine expects Germany to finally play a major role in preventing this looming war in time.” Melnik renewed his government’s demand for the supply of defensive weapons. However, he specified that this wish was not new and that it had already been presented to the previous federal government. It was only decided to send the weapons wish list to the Federal Foreign Office again in writing by means of a note verbale, “so that there are no more excuses”.
Baerbock and Kuleba struck different, more binding tones in Kiev. The German minister praised the long, “very trusting” one-on-one conversation she had with Kuleba; He reciprocated by remarking that although the issue of arms deliveries had also been discussed, they had not dwelt on “what Germany cannot do” for long, preferring to talk about what Berlin could do in the security and defense sector hold.
Visit to the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine
Melnik had also demanded that the German government advocate “preventive sanctions” against Russia in the European Union. An embargo on natural gas, oil and coal exports is necessary, and the completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline “should have been buried long ago on the seabed of the Baltic Sea,” he said. Baerbock, on the other hand, stuck to the stance of holding out the prospect of sanctions in the event that Russia violated Ukraine’s territorial integrity. She said, “Together we will respond to any further Russian aggression against Ukraine with tough, very concrete measures.” She added after meeting Kuleba that these measures would be “unprecedented”.
Baerbock continues to travel from Kiev to the contact line in eastern Ukraine, which outlines the separatist-held areas. She wanted to “listen to the residents” and “get a first-hand picture of their experiences, impressions and concerns, so that this could flow into the political talks, which we want to continue to vigorously promote”. The visit was originally planned to be accompanied by French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Driand, who had to change his mind and accompany the French President to Moscow on Monday.
Germany and France are trying to restart talks in the so-called Normandy format with Ukraine and Russia; which have not progressed since 2019. Specifically, a second meeting of the foreign policy advisors of the four heads of state and government is planned in Berlin. On Monday, the Ukrainian ambassador asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz to ensure that a summit meeting in this four-way format finally took place again.