Accompanied by her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrived in Kharkiv with an unannounced visit, German newspaper Die Zeit reported on Jan. 10.
For security reasons, the visit was prepared in secret.
Together with Kuleba and Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Oleksiy Makeev, Baerbock went to the Saltivka district of Kharkiv, which remains heavily damaged by Russian artillery strikes.
In Kharkiv, Baerbock said the people of Ukraine “can count on the solidarity and support” of Germany. She announced new weapons deliveries to help Ukrainians “liberate their fellow citizens who are still suffering from the terror of the Russian occupation.”
Subsequent German Foreign Ministry press release said the minister called Kharkiv “a symbol of the insanity of Russia's war of aggression and the endless suffering that people face every day.”
According to newspaper Bild, the visit lasted several hours. The minister and her delegation arrived by train and departed from the city in the evening of Jan. 10.
Kuleba thanked Baerbock for making the trip to Kharkiv, which lies less than 80 kilometers away from the Russian border.
“She (Baerbock) became the first foreign top diplomat to visit Kharkiv since Feb. 24, 2022,” Kuleba said in a Facebook post.
He added that he “has no doubt” that Ukraine will eventually receive modern Leopard-2 main battle tanks from Germany.
“Moreover, I think the German government already realizes, deep down, that the decision (to send Ukraine tanks) will have to be made,” the Ukrainian minister said.
On Jan. 5, following talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the United States and Germany announced that they would transfer Marder and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine. Berlin will also transfer an additional Patriot air defense battery to Ukraine – on top of the one Washington pledged back in December 2022.
On Jan. 9, U.S. news outlet Politico reported that both France and Poland are putting pressure on Germany to provide Kyiv with Leopard-2 tanks. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz maintains that sending Leopards to Ukraine will have to be done in concert with Berlin’s NATO allies.