Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is visiting Ukraine for the fourth time since the Russian war of aggression began in February 2022. The Green Party politician arrived in the capital Kiev in the morning for a visit that was initially kept secret for security reasons. A week before the UN General Assembly in New York, the visit was also intended as a sign of solidarity.

Arrival at night by special train

Because the airspace over Ukraine is still closed, Baerbock took a special train from Poland to the capital Kiev at night, as is usual for high-ranking politicians. The minister was picked up and greeted at the platform by the German ambassador Martin Jäger.

Upon her arrival, Baerbock pledged continued support for Ukraine on its way to the European Union, but also insisted on further reform efforts, for example in the fight against corruption. Ukraine also defends “the freedom of all of us. Just as Ukraine stands before us, it can also rely on us” – for example, that Germany will give Ukraine decisive support on its way to the European Union.

Ukraine has had EU candidate status since June 2022. At that time, the EU Commission defined seven reform priorities, some of which it considers to have been partially fulfilled. A new progress report from the Commission is expected in October.

Baerbock insists on more fight against corruption

Baerbock said that Kiev’s record on judicial reform and media legislation was already impressive. But “there is still a way to go in implementing the anti-oligarch law and the fight against corruption.” The EU itself must also “work quickly to ensure that we are properly positioned for more chairs at the table”.

Against the background of ongoing Russian attacks on the infrastructure and energy supply, Baerbock said they wanted to link the energy network with Ukraine even more closely. Families should not have to fear for their supplies if Russian President Vladimir Putin targets substations. Germany is not letting up on “supporting Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s aggression: economically, militarily, humanitarianally.”

Abducted children

Russia not only kills with its bombs, but also robs many thousands of Ukrainian children of their future, criticized Baerbock. They would be abducted from children’s institutions, orphanages and schools “in order to be deported to Russian re-education camps or given up for adoption in Russia.” Reports of extreme brainwashing, with Russian authorities smashing children’s bridges to their families and homes, are heartbreaking.

Germany supports those organizations and authorities “that give traumatized children a safe and secure home again,” said the minister. These crimes must be dealt with. “The very first peace step is for Putin to let these children go back home,” she demanded. The topic should also play an important role in the UN General Assembly week.

Baerbock was last in Ukraine in January

In January, the Federal Foreign Minister was the first German cabinet member to travel to eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, and visit the long-fought Kharkiv. Before that, after the start of the war in February 2022, she was in Kiev twice – in mid-May 2022 as the first member of the federal cabinet and in mid-September last year.