Anniversary visit to Ukraine: Baerbock still sees “day of joy”

Anniversary visit to Ukraine
Baerbock still sees “day of joy”

After two years of war, Russia is still attacking Ukraine on a daily basis. Rockets also hit Odessa before Foreign Minister Baerbock’s visit. A scene at the border crossing with Moldova nevertheless makes her and her Ukrainian counterpart Kuleba optimistic.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed optimism about Ukraine’s European path on the second anniversary of the Russian attack on his country. “Two years ago I could not have imagined that in 2024 there would be so many reasons to be proud of being European,” said Kuleba during a joint appearance with Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Palanca border crossing between Moldova and Ukraine .

Baerbock said it could be a “day of joy” because you can see the European flag at the border crossing. “Over the past two years we have walked this European path together.” From the border the two drove together in a column to the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa on the Black Sea.

The EU decided in mid-December to start accession negotiations with the government in Kiev. However, it will probably be many years before Ukraine can actually join the confederation of states. Kuleba said Ukraine and Europe have walked a common path in the past two years since the start of the war. Ukraine is being supplied with weapons and is on its way to the European Union.

“History is being written right now”

Europe has asserted itself as a strong actor that makes “ambitious historical decisions”. “History is being written right now,” said Kuleba. On February 24, 2022, he returned from the United Nations in New York to Ukraine via Poland and was “completely alone,” Kuleba said. There were thousands of cars on the Ukrainian side of the Polish border and people were trying to leave Ukraine. “My car was the only one that went to Ukraine.” There was great uncertainty at that time.

Some people advised him not to return to Ukraine “because no one believed that Ukraine would survive.” Now, exactly two years later to the day, he returned from New York to Ukraine – at a different border, but with a friend “who represents the entire coalition that stands on Ukraine’s side,” Kuleba told Blick on Baerbock. “This is very symbolic. Ukraine is not alone.” The Ukrainian added: “Ukraine has powerful friends. And we all pursue the same goal.”

From New York via Berlin to Moldova

The meeting between Baerbock and Kuleba was initially kept secret for security reasons. It is Baerbock’s sixth trip to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression. Like Kuleba, she took part in meetings of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council on Friday in New York on the second anniversary of the start of the war. The two politicians arrived in Berlin together in the morning on board a German government plane.

From there, Baerbock and Kuleba flew together to Moldova. They then drove by land to Odessa. At the beginning of her visit, Baerbock was informed about the current situation together with Kuleba in the port of Odessa. After a tour of the port through which much of Ukraine’s grain is exported, the commander of the Ukrainian Naval Forces briefed Baerbock on the security situation in the Black Sea.

Before Baerbock’s visit, two drones landed in Odessa within 24 hours. Three people died in the flames in a destroyed sewing factory, and then an elderly man died in a small residential building that night. His wife was born under the rubble with severe burns, residents said. Cleanup work at the site of the explosion is still ongoing.

In both cases, several drones were directed at targets. According to their own statements, the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense system can destroy the majority of these weapons. According to a Ukrainian army spokeswoman, Russia used nine drones in the direction of Odessa. The spokeswoman described the attack as a further test of the Russian military’s anti-aircraft defense. Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev spoke out in favor of the annexation of Odessa on Thursday and emphasized: “This is our Russian city.”

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