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Germany's Robert Habeck makes unannounced Ukraine visit

April 3, 2023

Germany's Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has arrived for political talks in Ukraine in an unannounced visit. He and a small business delegation will focus on the energy sector.

Robert Habeck arrived in Kyiv to discuss the post-war reconstruction effort
Robert Habeck arrived in Kyiv to discuss the post-war reconstruction effortImage: Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck arrived in Kyiv on Monday morning for political talks on a surprise visit.

Habeck said the aim of the talks was to "give Ukraine hope" that the country will be rebuilt after the war.

Habeck said the purpose of his trip was to send a clear signal to Ukraine: "A signal that we believe it will be victorious, that it will be rebuilt, that there is an interest from Europe not only to support it in times of need, but that Ukraine will also be an economically strong partner in the future."

The business of rebuilding

The talks will reportedly focus on cooperation to redevelop Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

Habeck, who is also Germany's economy minister, said investment decisions had either already been made, or were due to be made.

He was accompanied by a small business delegation including Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Federation of German Industries.

Russwurm described the trip as a "signal to the Ukrainians that German industry also stands with them."

It is Habeck's first visit to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, 2022.

Energy partnership with Ukraine

Germany and Ukraine should deepen their energy partnership, Habeck said after visiting a power substation supplying the most densely populated parts of Ukraine.

Germany and Ukraine have had a formal energy partnership since 2020, aimed at increasing energy efficiency, modernizing the electricity sector, expanding renewable energy production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

"The wish and the strategic plans — and these are security plans of the Ukrainians — are actually to make the energy system broader and more decentralized," said Habeck. "In this respect, two things fit together quite well: the need for security and a sustainable energy system." 

He said achieving those goals could make the Ukrainian energy sector more resilient and also turn the country into an energy exporter to the rest of Europe. 

Germany has become one of Ukraine's key military backers, despite initial criticism that it had been too hesitant to help. Most recently, Berlin has provided Kyiv with 18 Leopard 2 battle tanks, said to be among the most potent weapons in the West's arsenal.

dh, zc/rc (dpa, ARD)

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