Germany's president pledges more support for Ukraine in surprise visit

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By Euronews  with AP, Reuters
The German president, whose position is largely ceremonial, made it to Ukraine on his third try.
The German president, whose position is largely ceremonial, made it to Ukraine on his third try.   -  Copyright  AP Photo

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has made a surprise trip to visit Ukraine for the first time since the Russian invasion. 

Steinmeier pledged further support to Kyiv as Western countries mull plans to help rebuild the country after the war.

Steinmeier had originally planned to visit Ukraine in April but Kyiv reportedly refused to welcome him over his previous alleged ties with Russia as German foreign minister. Last week, a planned trip was also postponed due to security concerns.

“It was important to me in this phase of air attacks with drones, cruise missiles, and rockets to send a signal of solidarity to Ukrainians,” he said on Tuesday.

"What matters now is that we help to protect the Ukrainians from air attacks as much as possible," Steinmeier added.

Germany has become one of the largest suppliers of air defense equipment to Ukraine in recent months.

Steinmeier plans to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and has also pledged to help repair destroyed infrastructure, such as power grids, water pipes, and heating systems.

"My message to the Ukrainians is: 'Not only do we stand by your side, but we will continue to support Ukraine economically, politically, and also militarily," he told reporters on his arrival by train in Kyiv.

His visit to Ukraine coincides with a conference in Berlin on a so-called "new Marshall Plan" -- similar to the US-sponsored plan that helped revive western European economies after World War II

Many Ukrainians are bracing for less electric power this winter following a sustained Russian barrage on their infrastructure in recent weeks.

The World Bank estimates the damage to Ukraine caused by the war is €350 billion.