Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has traveled to Ukraine for the first time since the war began. In the port city of Odessa on the Black Sea, the SPD politician was received by her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Resnikov on Saturday. Lambrecht promised to deliver a first unit of the already promised Iris-T SLM ground-based air defense system within a few days. Even the Bundeswehr does not yet have the state-of-the-art system.
Shortly before the visit, which was initially kept secret for security reasons, two Russian Iskander missiles hit an industrial area in Odessa, according to Ukrainian sources. Nobody got hurt.
Lambrecht inspects Cheetah anti-aircraft tanks
In the port of Odessa, the minister found out about the use of a Gepard anti-aircraft tank made available by the federal government. Germany delivered a total of 30 of these tanks, including around 6,000 rounds of ammunition, to the country attacked by Russia. The system helps protect the "critical infrastructure" and defend against Russian air attacks, she said in the grain port. From there, the Ukrainian grain is exported to the world via the Black Sea, after deliveries had long been blocked by Russia. Lambrecht also spoke to the German-trained Gepard team.
A planned visit to the city of Mykolaiv, around 40 kilometers from the front, had to be canceled for security reasons due to the threat of Russian rocket and artillery attacks. In the area, Lambrecht originally wanted to visit weapon positions, training facilities and mine clearance activities together with Reznikov.
Minister has to go to a protective bunker in the event of an air alarm
Lambrecht was woken up early on Sunday morning by an air raid alarm in the port city of Odessa. With other members of her delegation, the SPD politician had to seek shelter in the bunker of her hotel shortly before 1 a.m. After about 20 minutes the all clear was given and the minister was able to return to her room.
At around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Lambrecht had to go into a bunker for 45 minutes during a meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Resnikov because of an air raid alarm. Reznikov said the Russians shot down a Kalibr missile, most likely from a ship. In the bunker he advertised the delivery of anti-ship missiles. The SPD politician said the situation made it clear how important it was to deliver a first unit of the Iris-T SLM ground-based air defense system quickly.
Lambrecht spoke of delivery in a few days and praised the system's Ukrainian team, which she met during training in Germany. "Ukraine is currently experiencing an incredible number of airstrikes, and that's why it's so important that we provide even more support in terms of air defense," said the minister, emphasizing: "You can rely on us there." Reznikov said the Ukrainians would fight until all their territories were liberated - including Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed from Russia in 2014.
During the discussion with Resnikov in the bunker, Lambrecht emphasized: "Brutality must not be successful." It is important that the EU remains united on the sanctions. Additional sanctions must also be discussed. The minister showed understanding for Ukraine's application to be quickly admitted to NATO. For such a procedure, however, certain conditions would have to be met. "And very importantly, NATO has taken a clear position that we will not become a war party."
Resnikov initially received his colleague for lunch in a hotel directly on the Black Sea. Both hugged each other warmly in greeting.
Iris-T SLM air defense system is expected to be delivered soon
Lambrecht promised the rapid delivery of a unit of the Iris-T SLM air defense system. Germany initially wants to make four of the systems, each costing 140 million euros, available to Ukraine. Funding for three more systems has been secured. A unit consists of four vehicles - a fire control unit and three rocket launchers. It should be able to protect a medium-sized city from air attacks. According to the German manufacturer Diehl Defence, the system enables protection against attacks by aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles. According to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), it is the most modern air defense system that Germany has.
Visit after the mock referendums
Lambrecht visited Ukraine under the impression of the illegal annexation of the Russian-occupied parts of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Cherson regions. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin signed an agreement on the accession of the territories to the Russian Federation on Friday. Internationally, neither the staged bogus referendums in the east and south of Ukraine about the accession of the regions to Russia nor the annexation of the occupied territories are recognized.
Lambrecht promises Moldova support
In the morning, Lambrecht had promised the small neighboring Ukrainian republic of Moldova further support in equipping and training the army. Among other things, it is about the procurement of drones. In view of Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons, the minister warned that the West would be paralyzed.
Most recently, Baerbock was in Kyiv
Prior to Lambrecht, several other members of the federal government had traveled to the capital, Kyiv, and other parts of the country since the beginning of the war. Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) had been in Odessa in June. Most recently, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) was in Kyiv three weeks ago - she was the first German government member to be there since the beginning of the war in mid-May.
Chancellor Scholz visited Kyiv in mid-June together with French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. The four heads of state and government paved the way for Ukraine's EU candidate status. Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) have also visited Ukraine in recent months. Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) were also there.
Discussion about Leopard 2 main battle tanks
Ukraine also demands main battle tanks such as the modern Leopard 2 and armored personnel carriers from Western countries such as Germany. Such tanks could be of use to Ukraine in advances and recapture of territories. So far, however, no NATO country has delivered western-style battle tanks. Scholz always emphasizes that Germany will not go it alone on this issue. Lambrecht confirmed this line. Scholz said recently that Germany wanted to focus on providing air defense systems and artillery. The federal government has so far delivered weapons worth 734 million euros to Ukraine.
Diehl Defense company brochure, Iris-T from p. 8 Diehl Defense on the Iris-T SLM air defense system Diehl Defense on the range of Iris-T SLM Diehl Defense on the Iris-T SLX Magazine "Europäische Sicherheit und Technik" on the Iris-T SLM Krauss-Maffei Wegmann on Mars II Bundeswehr on Mars II Federal government on arms deliveries to Ukraine