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Ukraine: Germany's Baerbock cuts short visit to Mykolaiv

February 25, 2024

The German foreign minister was visiting the southern Ukrainian city when an air alert sounded, according to the German Foreign Office. A Russian reconnaissance drone was reportedly flying in the area.

Annalena Baerbock with bodyguards in the rubble of Mykolaiv, Ukraine
Baerbock's trip has seen two incidents in which she was forced to take shelter from Russian air threatsImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Sunday was forced to cut short a visit to a water treatment plant paid for with German aid, in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

The incident occurred when air-raid sirens wailed as a Russian reconnaissance drone was spotted trailing the politician and her team before breaking off its route and leaving.

Such sightings are often followed by a direct missile attack.

Residents instructed to take shelter

Residents in Mykolaiv were alerted via text messages that instructed them to make their way to the nearest bomb shelter.

Baerbock and her delegation were rushed from the scene at a high rate of speed in armored vehicles.

Mykolaiv, which is near the front lines in the war between Russian and Ukrainian forces, was also one of the first cities targeted in missile attacks in the days following Russia's February 24, 2022 invasion.

More than 1,300 homes and 1,000 single-family residences have been destroyed in the two years since Russia began its war.

Baerbock says Mykolaiv 'a symbol of unbreakable Ukrainian resistance'

In Mykolaiv on Sunday, Baerbock saw the burnt-out remains of the regional adminstrative building, which was destroyed by Russia in March 2022, killing 37 people and injuring another 30. During her visit, Baerbock called Mykolaiv "a symbol of the Ukrainain people's unbreakable resistance." 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaking to reporters in Mykolaiv, Ukraine
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock praised the courage of the people of Mykolaiv as she spoke in front of the ruins of the region's bombed-out administrative buildingImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

Speaking in Mykolaiv, Baerbock said, "The sheer terror of the Russian president is based on attrition," he hopes "the horror of this war will ultimately lead to resignation among the people here, or in the international community — and that is not going to happen."

Baerbock promised more humanitarian aid during her visit — Germany recently committed another €100,000 million ($108 million) in aid, bringing total German Ukraine assistance to roughly €1 billion ($1.08 billion). That money is earmarked for the reconstruction of water infrastructure, hospitals and housing.

Berlin is planning to host an international conference on Ukraine reconstruction this June.

Baerbock admits Berlin isn't doing enough when it comes to weapons

The German diplomat also acknowledged the need to speed up arms deliveries to Kyiv, without making promises to ensure that happens.

"Of course, we cannot deliver enough," she said during prior remarks in Odesa. "We're racking our brains trying to figure out how we can deliver more, including long-range missile systems."

Baerbock: 'Our support is coming up to 30 billion euros'

On Saturday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reiterated Kyiv's contention that the West was not doing enough to help his country defend itself.

Baerbock was forced to take shelter in a bunker under her Odesa hotel when air-raid sirens sounded.

Russian missiles had hit the Black Sea port city on Thursday and Friday night.

Foreign leaders visit Ukraine as Russia's invasion enters third year 

Baerbock's trip to Ukraine was part of a larger European and G7 push to show continued solidarity with Ukraine on the second anniversary of Russia's unprovoked invasion.

Ukraine defiant as Russian invasion enters third year

On Saturday, world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen all traveled to Ukraine to show suppport.

js/wd (AFP, dpa)