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Germany's FM Baerbock visits Kyiv amid Russian offensive on Ukraine's east

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks with the media, in Brussels, Monday, March 18, 2024.
Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks with the media, in Brussels, Monday, March 18, 2024. Copyright Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews
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Annalena Baerbock renewed calls for partners to send more air defence systems to Ukraine, although Germany's own deliveries have been slow.

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Germany’s foreign minister arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in the latest public display of support for Ukraine by its Western partners.

Annalena Baerbock renewed Berlin’s calls for partners to send more air defence systems as Ukraine’s depleted troops are trying to hold off a fierce Russian offensive along the eastern border in a critical phase of the war. 

"The Russian attacks are directly targeted at the civilian infostructure. Infrastructure like electricity is what you need for daily life, and air defence is so important, but we still need way more air defence because some of the rockets and missiles could be brought down by air defence, but obviously not all of them," Baerbock said in Kyiv.

"It's directly and strategically a direct attack on infrastructure to enable the life and survival here in Ukraine, and this is why I am calling worldwide to increase the air defence support, but also to increase support for reconstruction."

Germany is the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the US. In 2023, it provided around €5 billion in military assistance.

Recently, Berlin pledged a third US-made Patriot battery for Ukraine as Kyiv faces a shortfall of air defences against the ongoing Russian onslaught. 

The country has been resisting appeals from Ukrainian officials to provide Ukraine with the coveted Taurus missiles, which have a range of up to 500 kilometres. 

Amongst other reasons, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has claimed that these would involve sending troops directly into Ukraine, which would encourage a direct retaliation from Russia. 

Ukraine's ability to defend itself 'compromised'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has insisted that air defence systems are needed more than ever as the Kremlin's forces focus their efforts on the eastern Donetsk province and the northeastern Kharkiv region.

“These US and Western policies are severely compromising Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against current Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv (region) or any area along the international border where Russian forces may choose to conduct offensive operations in the future,” the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment late Monday.

A Ukrainian soldier is standing in front of a Marder infantry fighting vehicle at the German forces Bundeswehr training area in Munster, 20 February 2023
A Ukrainian soldier is standing in front of a Marder infantry fighting vehicle at the German forces Bundeswehr training area in Munster, 20 February 2023AP Photo/Gregor Fischer

Regarding Ukraine's prospective EU membership, Baerbock said that Ukraine joining the bloc would be “the necessary geopolitical consequence of Russia’s illegal war of aggression.”

Ukraine has made “impressive progress” and must not let up on reforms to the judicial system, fighting corruption and media freedom, Baerbock stated.

Germany is set to host a reconstruction conference for Ukraine next month as it looks to help rebuild the country following the war.

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