Berbuk in Ukraine: ‘We could be those victims’

aForeign Minister Annalina Barbock is the first German minister to travel to the capital, Kyiv, since the start of Russia’s aggressive war on Ukraine. The politician from the Green Party got an idea of ​​the situation in the suburbs of Bucha and Irbin on Tuesday. More than 400 bodies were found in Bucha after the Russian forces withdrew – some with their hands tied behind their backs.

Barbock spoke in Bocha about “war crimes and crimes against humanity”. It is a place where the “most heinous crimes” were committed. “And that’s why it’s so important for me to be here today.” She called for clarification of the incidents, and those responsible must be held accountable. “We owe it to the victims,” Barbock said. “And these victims, you feel very strongly here that we can be those victims.”

After Barbock lit a candle in church, she said it felt like in a regular church. At the same time, this is where “the worst crimes imaginable not only appeared, but actually happened.” The people’s greatest desire is to show the world what crimes have occurred and how severe the pain is.

Foreign Minister Annalina Barbuk lights a candle for the victims at a church in Bucha

Source: Andreas Stein / D

She appeared shaken on Barbuk, who was protected by heavily armed security personnel and wearing a flak jacket. You see stadiums, supermarkets, people going to work. Then you see the worst effects of the crime right next door. “The bomb hit the supermarket directly. In the church, the pictures showed people who just did what everyone else does: get up, go shopping, and who were killed in cold blood,” Barbock said.

Foreign Minister Annalina Barbuk (Greens) speaks to Ukraine's Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova (R) during her visit to Bucha.

Foreign Minister Annalina Barbuk (Greens) speaks to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova (R) during her visit to Bucha.

Source: Andreas Stein / D

The Minister was accompanied by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova. In the afternoon, among other things, a conversation was planned between Barbuk and her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

Foreign Minister Annalina Barbuk visits Irbin near Kyiv

Foreign Minister Annalina Barbuk visits Irbin near Kyiv

Source: dpa / Andreas Stein

After Bucha’s visit, Barbuk met Mayor Alexander Markushin in Irben. “You are a very brave country and all we can do is stand by you,” Barbock said. The talks also dealt with the necessity of clearing the country of Russian mines.

Mayor Markushin said at the meeting that many more deminers will be needed in the future – as well as in regions in eastern Ukraine. According to the mayor, after the withdrawal of the Russian troops, 25,000 people returned to the city, compared to 5,000 at the time of the Russian occupation. 2,000 apartments and 35 skyscrapers were destroyed by Russian attacks.

Minister intends to reopen the embassy

The minister also wanted to reopen the German embassy in Kyiv, which had been closed since mid-February. The last embassy staff sent to Poland left on February 25 and continued to work partly from there and partly from Berlin.

Germany is one of the last Western countries to announce the reopening of its embassy in Kyiv. On Sunday, the United States and Canada announced the return of embassy staff. Prior to this, the representations of the European Union, France, Italy, Great Britain, Austria and other countries have already reopened in Kyiv.

Only Japan, which has yet to announce the reopening of its embassy, ​​is missing from the G7 group of leading industrial democratic nations.

Steinmeier discharged, Schulz postpones flight

In recent weeks, there have been many discussions about visits of German politicians to Ukraine. An invitation from Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who wanted to travel to Kyiv with the presidents of Poland and the three Baltic states, caused strong discontent in Berlin.

Chancellor Olaf Schultz (SPD) described Steinmeier’s non-invitation as an obstacle to his trip to Kyiv. After Steinmeier and Selinsky shed anger in a phone call last week, Schulz announced that Barbock would be traveling soon. It was not initially clear if and when Schulz could travel to Kyiv.

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On Sunday, the President of the Bundestag Barbel Bass (SPD) visited Kyiv as the second highest representative of the state after the Federal President. Before that, Frederic Merz was president of the Christian Democratic Union in Kyiv last Tuesday.

Selinsky had invited chancellor on May 9 – Russia on Monday celebrated the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. Silinsky had announced that Schulz could take a “very strong political step” and come to the Ukrainian capital that day. However, the chancellor decided not to travel.

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