German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday.
This is Steinmeier’s first visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24.
“My message to the Ukrainians is that we don’t just stand by you. We will continue to support Ukraine economically, politically and militarily,” the president said after his arrival.
Steinmeier said his message to Germans back home was: “Let’s not forget what this war means to the people here in Ukraine. How much suffering and how much destruction there is. The people of Ukraine need us.”
“It was important for me, especially now at this point of aerial attacks with drones, cruise missiles and missiles, to send a message of solidarity to the Ukrainians,” he added.
The president also said he was “very happy” to be in the country, and praised the “courage, steadfastness and fortitude of Ukrainians”.
Steinmeier, at a press conference later, reiterated Germany’s support for Ukraine, adding that Berlin would continue to support the country.
“Today I was able to look at this war through Ukraine’s eyes for a day,” Steinmeier said. “I admire sincere admiration for Ukrainians’ courage, perseverance and will for freedom.”
The German president was expected to arrive in Ukraine last Thursday. However, the flight was canceled in a short time due to the tense security situation, as Kyiv was bombarded by Russian missiles and aircraft.
An official from his office said German security authorities and the Foreign Ministry had advised Steinmeier not to go, but that the visit would be rescheduled soon.
However, other leaders continued to visit Kyiv. For example, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis visited the Ukrainian capital on the same day that Steinmeier was scheduled to be there.
Meetings in an air raid shelter
Steinmeier held talks with Ukrainian officials during a Russian airstrike on the town of Koryukivka, northeast of Kyiv, German news agency DPA reported.
The officials held their meeting inside an air raid shelter, where the president spent the first hour and a half of his visit to the town. The Ukrainian Air Force said the alarm was raised by Russia’s launch of about 10 Iranian-designed combat drones in Belarus.
“It gave us a particularly vivid sense of the conditions in which people live here,” Steinmeier is quoted by DPA as saying.
Failed visit in April
Steinmeier was already planning a trip to Kyiv in April – with the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. However, Steinmeier’s invitation was rejected by the Ukrainian government, citing his pro-Russian stance in recent years as the reason.
The Ukrainian position angered German politicians. Steinmeier himself had previously admitted to making mistakes about policy toward Russia.
It was only at the beginning of May that Steinmeier and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, finally clear the diplomatic atmosphere with a phone call. The Ukrainian president personally invited Steinmeier to visit Ukraine.
Since then, many German politicians have traveled to the war-torn country, including Chancellor Olaf Schulz.
dh/rt (dpa, Reuters)
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