Baerbock Offers Support and Calls for Reforms During Secret Visit to Ukraine
In order to maintain security, the details of her trip were kept confidential. This morning, Foreign Minister Baerbock arrived in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. During her visit, she promised ongoing support to Ukraine while emphasizing the importance of reforms.
This marks her fourth visit since the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The visit by the Green party politician was initially kept secret for security reasons. With the UN General Assembly approaching next week in New York, the visit is likely intended as a symbol of solidarity.
Due to the continued closure of Ukrainian airspace, Baerbock traveled by special train from Poland to the city of Kyiv, as is customary for high-level political visits. The minister was greeted and accompanied by German Ambassador Martin Jäger upon her arrival at the platform.
“Ukraine can rely on all of us”
Upon her arrival, Baerbock pledged ongoing support to Ukraine on its path towards the European Union, but also emphasized the need for further reform efforts, particularly in the fight against corruption. She expressed that Ukraine defends “the freedom of all of us. Just as Ukraine stands by us, it can also rely on us,” including Germany’s determined assistance in Ukraine’s journey towards the European Union.
Since June 2022, Ukraine has held the status of a candidate for EU membership. The EU Commission defined seven reform priorities at that time, some of which have been partially fulfilled. A new progress report from the Commission is expected in October.
Baerbock acknowledged that Ukraine has made progress in judicial reform and media legislation but stated that there is still work to be done regarding the implementation of the anti-oligarch law and the fight against corruption. She also highlighted the need for the EU to swiftly ensure proper representation at the table.
Baerbock visits substation near Kyiv
Approximately 50 kilometers outside the city center of Kyiv, the Foreign Minister visited a substation and learned about the efforts of the Ukrainian government to secure the country’s energy supply ahead of the approaching winter. Olexandr Kubrakov, the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for reconstruction, showed Baerbock around the approximately 40-hectare site. With a capacity of around 2,000 megawatts, the facility is responsible for a large portion of the region’s electricity supply.
According to Ukrainian reports, the facility has been targeted multiple times by Russian missiles and kamikaze drones supplied by Iran. One major attack involving several drones occurred on New Year’s Eve, resulting in the destruction of parts of the facility which have since been rebuilt. Tall nets have been installed around the site to intercept low-flying drones.
Upon her arrival, Baerbock stated that Germany aims to further strengthen its energy network with Ukraine. Families should not fear for their energy supply if Russian President Vladimir Putin targets substations. Germany remains committed to supporting Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression, economically, militarily, and humanitarianly.
“Returning the children is the first step towards peace”
Furthermore, the Foreign Minister criticized Russia for denying a future to thousands of Ukrainian children. She mentioned that these children are being abducted from childcare facilities, orphanages, and schools to be forcibly taken to Russian re-education camps or put up for adoption in Russia. Reports of extreme brainwashing, which destroy any connection these children have with their families and homeland, deeply saddened Baerbock.
The Minister stated that Germany supports organizations and authorities that provide traumatized children with a safe and nurturing home. These crimes must be addressed and reconciliation is necessary. “The first step towards peace is for Putin to allow these children to return home,” she demanded. This issue will also play a significant role during the UN General Assembly week.
The Federal Foreign Minister’s most recent visit to the conflict-ridden eastern region close to the Russian border was in January, making her the first German cabinet member to visit since the start of the war. Prior to that, she visited Kyiv twice, in May 2022 as the first member of the federal cabinet and in mid-September of the previous year.