Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for his second visit. “I am here again to, firstly, promise further support,” said the minister.
He also wanted to express “our solidarity, our deep connection and admiration for the courageous, brave and costly fight that is being waged here.” The program included a conversation with his Ukrainian colleague Rustem Umjerow. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in Kiev on Monday.
Pistorius visited Kiev for the first time in February, almost three weeks after being sworn in as defense minister. At that time, he had promised the Ukrainian leadership that he would deliver more than 100 older Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks. They should be delivered in stages by the second quarter of 2024 at the latest.
At the start of his second visit, Pistorius honored the demonstrators killed during the pro-European Maidan protests a decade ago. “Courageous people of all ages took to the streets for freedom, for rapprochement with Europe and paid for it with their lives,” said Pistorius. He placed red roses at a makeshift memorial for those killed. The demonstrations began exactly ten years ago on November 21, 2013.
The three-month long protests in Kiev ultimately led to the overthrow of Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych. Several dozen demonstrators and 17 police officers were shot. As a result, Russia occupied the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and annexed it a short time later. Moscow then supported eastern Ukrainian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions for years and launched an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that continues to this day.