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21 May, 2024 15:44

German FM calls for more weapons for Ukraine

Annalena Baerbock has arrived in Kiev on an unannounced visit, promising more military aid
German FM calls for more weapons for Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on the West to “urgently” provide more weapons to Kiev during a visit to the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday. Her trip and call for aid came amid widely reported tensions in Kiev over Russian gains on the battlefield.

Baerbock praised Ukraine’s “impressive resilience” as she arrived in the nation’s capital by train, and called on the Western nations to provide “more air-defense resources” to the Ukrainian military.

Germany has “led the way” in this initiative by “providing an additional Patriot unit,” Baerbock claimed. Berlin pledged to send one more US-made air defense system to Ukraine in mid-April, but it is unclear if it has been delivered. The latest update on military assistance published by the German government in late April still lists it as “military support… in planning.” 

According to AP, weapons deliveries from Western nations such as Germany “have been slow,” and officials in Kiev have been saying that the nation’s military still faces “an alarming shortfall of air defenses.” 

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told Reuters on Monday that all the military assistance that Kiev’s Western backers send comes with serious delays.

“Every decision to which we, then later everyone together, come to is late by around one year,” he said, describing the approach as “one big step forward, but, before that, two steps back.” 

Baerbock’s visit came amid the Russian offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkov Region. Moscow launched the operation in early May in response to repeated Ukrainian strikes targeting civilian infrastructure in the Russian border regions. One strike killed 19 people in Belgorod Region in just one day this month.

Last Sunday, a dozen civilians were injured in another Ukrainian attack on Belgorod Region, according to the local authorities. Last week, President Vladimir Putin stated that the shelling of residential areas is pushing Moscow to create a buffer zone along the border with Ukraine. “If this continues, we will be forced to create a security zone. This is what we are doing,” he said at the time.

Baerbock planned to visit the city of Kharkov on Tuesday but her trip was canceled “for security reasons,” according to AP. Russian troops have been stepping up the offensive in the area and have been steadily gaining ground to the north of the city.

Germany remains the second biggest arms donor to Kiev, behind only the US. The nation spent around €10 billion ($10.85 billion) on weapons for Ukraine between January 2022 and February 2024, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

Moscow has warned that weapons deliveries to Ukraine will only prolong the conflict but cannot change the outcome.