German minister says Ukraine’s place is in EU, hears calls for arms during Kyiv visit

KYIV/BERLIN (Reuters) -German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during a visit to Kyiv on Monday that Ukraine’s place was in the European Union, but urged it do more to fight corruption.

On her fourth visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion over 18 months ago, she said Germany would provide an additional 20 million euros ($21.44 million) in humanitarian aid, bringing the amount provided by Berlin to 380 million euros this year.

At meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian leaders, she also heard calls for Western partners to provide Kyiv with more weapons including long-range missiles to fight Russian forces.

“Ukraine is defending the freedom of us all with great courage and determination,” Baerbock was quoted by her ministry as saying on arrival in the Ukrainian capital.

“Just as Ukraine is standing up for us, it can also rely on us and on our understanding of EU enlargement as a necessary geopolitical consequence of Russia’s war. And on our firm support for Ukraine on its path towards the European Union.”

Despite Russia’s invasion, Ukraine is trying to carry out reforms requested by the EU before it can join the 28-country bloc, a process that usually takes years.

“Reform results in the areas of judicial reform and media legislation are already impressive. But there is still a long way to go in the implementation of the anti-oligarch law and the fight against corruption,” Baerbock said.

She also warned that Russia would target Ukraine’s energy facilities in air strikes this autumn and winter.

“Russia’s perfidious goal is to starve the people again this winter and to let them freeze to death,” she said.


Ukrainian officials have also warned that a new Russian air campaign is likely on energy infrastructure after multiple attacks last winter, and have stepped up calls for long-range missiles from its allies to help defend the country.

Following talks with Baerbock, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had called for Taurus cruise missiles to be delivered to Ukraine as soon as possible.

“You will do it anyway, its just a matter of time, and I don’t understand why we are wasting time,” Kuleba said in response to a question at a press conference.

He said that Ukraine, a major grain producer and exporter, needed more protection for its ports after Russia stepped up air strikes on grain export infrastructure.

Kuleba has also in recent weeks requested ATACMS long-range missiles from Kyiv’s allies.

Andriy Yermak, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, said on the Telegram messaging app that discussions on long range missiles had been “good” and the question of ATACMS was moving forward, but gave no details.

Zelenskiy, who thanked Baerbock for Germany’s support, told CNN in an interview that he planned to speak again to U.S. President Joe Biden about providing ATACMS to Ukraine, and that he hoped to receive them in the autumn.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz in Berlin, Max Hunder in Kyiv and Ozan Ergenay, Writing by Anna Pruchnicka, Editing by Miranda Murray and Timothy Heritage)