German foreign minister Baerbock pledges to 'ensure justice' on visit to Ukraine

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews  with AFP
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, center, and a Ukrainian War Prosecutor talk as they stand near a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, 10 May 2022.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, center, and a Ukrainian War Prosecutor talk as they stand near a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, 10 May 2022.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock travelled to Bucha, Ukraine, on Tuesday where Russian troops are alleged to have committed war crimes after bodies of civilians were found in the streets and in mass graves.

Baerbock said that "the worst crimes imaginable" had been perpetrated in Bucha during the Russian occupation and pledged to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Russia denies its troops committed war crimes, calling images of civilians lying dead in the street "a dangerous and serious provocation".

"We owe it to the victims to not only commemorate here, but to also hold the perpetrators accountable. This is what we are going to do as the international community, that's the promise that we can and must give here in Bucha," Baerbock said.

"No one can take away the pain… but we can ensure justice," she said, accompanied on her visit by Ukraine's attorney general who is investigating the killings.

It was the first visit of a German minister to Ukraine since the beginning of the war at the end of February.

Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra also travelled to Kyiv with Baerbock, he tweeted, adding that he travelled to Irpin, another war-torn town outside of Kyiv.

"The bombed-out houses and buildings illustrate the impact the war has had on the lives of the men, women and children who live here," Hoekstra tweeted.

"These acts cannot go unpunished. The Netherlands is committed to establish the truth and achieve justice."

Baerbock also announced that Germany would reopen its embassy in Kyiv.

The embassy, which was closed shortly after the Russian invasion on 24 February, will be reopened initially "with a minimal presence," she said at a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart.

The Ukrainian government in turn welcomed Berlin's "change of position" in its foreign policy towards Moscow since the war began.

"I would like to thank Germany for changing its position on a number of issues," including its "traditional policy towards Russia," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.