The sky over Kiev is bright blue, it is a sunny and warm day. Traffic is rolling, pedestrians are strolling through the city center, cafes and restaurants are open. Everyday life in a city of millions - but it is a city in a state of war. Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner is standing in the middle of the old town on Michaelsplatz, talking to Ukrainian soldiers and inspecting captured Russian tanks. Not far away he laid a wreath on the wall of the Michaelskloster. Meters of photos of fallen soldiers can be seen there. Lindner seems thoughtful. He says war is not abstract, but causes much human suffering.
Linder is in Kiev for the first time since the beginning of the war
For the first time since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine almost a year and a half ago, the FDP leader has come to Kiev - the capital of a country that is in a war that is threatening its very existence. Lindner came overnight by train from Poland with a small number of companions. On Monday morning he - like Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and several federal ministers before him - got off at the train station in Kiev and was greeted by the German Ambassador Martin Jäger.
As far as possible, he wants to find out what everyday life was like during the terrible war, says Lindner. "It's always a different impression when you're there yourself than when you meet in Washington or Brussels or Berlin in meeting rooms." He was in Kiev in 2020 and got the impression that Ukraine was moving west. This is exactly why the country was invaded by Russia.
Breakfast with Klitschko
Then comes the message that they want to hear here in Kiev: Germany will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, says Lindner. "This is about the future of the European order of peace and freedom." Ukraine defends liberal Western values. For breakfast, he meets the Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko. The delivery of anti-aircraft systems and long-range weapons was also an issue, Klitschko said.
With a view to further arms deliveries, there is currently a debate about a possible delivery of German Taurus cruise missiles. Ukraine is putting pressure on the federal government to deliver these to Kiev to strengthen its defenses against Russia.
Debate about German cruise missiles
Scholz had been reluctant to comment on this on ZDF on Sunday. As in the past, the federal government will always check every single decision very carefully, he said.
Lindner becomes clearer in Kyiv. After a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko, when asked about Taurus, he said the usual procedure would apply. Germany will discuss with its allies what is needed and what is possible. And then: "Since I know that many, like myself, have sympathy for such support, I hope that these questions will be clarified soon, very soon."
The "Bild" says Lindner on the Taurus question, the prerequisite is the coordination with the allies and the preservation of one's own capabilities for national defense. In addition, Germany must not become a party to the war. "If these three criteria are met, then such a decision can be made. My only wish is that we decide that quickly. Because in an ongoing war, speed is also an essential factor."
Clear words from Lindner
Those are clear words. "Ukraine must win this war," says the finance minister. "That's why it's also part of our responsibility that Ukraine's staying power is always greater than the evil that emanates from Putin's war." The federal government therefore wants to continue to do everything in its power to strengthen Ukraine's military capabilities. Much has already been done to this end.
Ukraine has been repelling a Russian invasion for over 17 months with massive Western aid. Lindner speaks of total aid from the federal government for Ukraine amounting to 22 billion euros. This also includes billions in aid for the accommodation, food and care of refugees from Ukraine. Military aid amounted to more than 12 billion euros.
Letter of Intent signed
But Lindner also wants to look ahead. Together with Marchenko he signs a declaration of intent. Germany wants to do more to ensure that Ukraine has an economically prosperous future. The Ministry of Finance wants to help Ukraine specifically with financial supervision or with the privatization of state holdings. This should also lay the foundations for the reconstruction of the country. Lindner emphasizes that it is important to create attractive conditions for foreign direct investments.
But the war is not over yet. How much longer will it last? Probably nobody can predict it. Ukraine appreciates Germany's support very much, says Marchenko. After talking to the Ukrainian soldiers, Lindner says he is very aware of how important air defense is for the Ukrainians' will to persevere. And then the reserve officer mentions in passing that he is a major himself - in the Luftwaffe.