Politics, Europe, Russia-Ukraine War

Top German diplomat pledges 'full support' to probe Russian 'war crimes' in Ukraine

Annalena Baerbock 1st member of German government to visit Ukraine since Russia’s war on country began

Zehra Nur Duz and Bahtiyar Abdulkerimov   | 10.05.2022
Top German diplomat pledges 'full support' to probe Russian 'war crimes' in Ukraine

ANKARA, KYIV, Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has expressed "full support" for a probe into Russia's "war crimes" in Ukraine.

Baerbock arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday, on the first trip there by a member of the German government since Russia's war on the country began on Feb. 24.

Accompanied by the Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova, she visited the city of Bucha, where Russian forces, which withdrew from the city in late March, are accused of killing civilians. Moscow, however, has termed images of corpses lining the streets as “fakes.”

After hearing accounts of the alleged atrocities, Baerbock said those responsible must be brought to justice.

"We owe this to the victims," public broadcaster Deutsche Welle quoted her as saying. "And those victims, as we can feel here so strongly, those victims could have been us."

In a tweet, she said: "We will collect evidence as an international community. I have pledged Germany's full support in investigating the war crimes to Venediktova: politically, financially and personnel-wise."

Baerbock later visited the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, which has suffered devastation and praised the courage shown by the Ukrainians in their fight against the Russian military campaign.

"You are a very brave country, and all that we can do is stand at your side," she said.

"Being the foreign minister of a country during peacetime is easy. But it is a completely different matter being a mayor during a war. You have my greatest respect," she told Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn."

The foreign minister later announced the reopening of the German Embassy in Kyiv, which was closed since mid-February.

Speaking at a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, she said Ukraine could become a full member of the EU but there could be "no shortcuts."

Her visit came as Germany continues to face criticism over its policy toward Russia, perceived as placing economic interest over human rights concerns.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition government long maintained a cautious policy and ruled out supplying weapons to Ukraine, but reversed its policy in February.

Earlier this month, the government further toughened its stance and started approving the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine, including seven howitzer artillery systems.

Last week, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke over the telephone with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after days of diplomatic tension over his canceled visit to Kyiv.

The conversation was described as "very important" by both leaders, and that "previous irritants" had been addressed.

Both Steinmeier and Scholz are now said to have been invited to Kyiv. Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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