KYIV: German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius made an unexpected visit to Kyiv on Tuesday
to reaffirm Berlin’s backing for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s forces.
Pistorius arrived by train and is due to engage in discussions with his Ukrainian counterpart as well as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Berlin, the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Kyiv after the United States, is seeking to provide reassurances after the shift in focus to the Middle East war prompted concerns about waning support for Ukraine.
The visit follows an increase in Russian air attacks on Ukraine and as Kyiv braces for an anticipated rise in strikes on the country’s energy facilities during the approaching winter months.
It is Pistorius’s second visit to Kyiv since assuming the position of defence minister at the beginning of this year, and it comes a day after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Ukraine.
In addition to political discussions, Pistorius will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Kyiv’s Maidan Square and visit a military training centre.
After some initial hesitation, Germany significantly escalated its support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion and has supplied a huge array of armaments to Kyiv, ranging from heavy battle tanks to air defence systems.
The conflict prompted the German government to embark on an overhaul of the country’s creaking military, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz unveiling a 100-billion-euro ($109-billion) fund to strengthen the armed forces.
Haunted by guilt over its role in the Second World War, successive governments had considered the armed forces a low priority, and it suffered from years of neglect.
Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, Germany has offered strong support to Israel in its fight against the Palestinian fighters.
But Scholz pledged last month Germany would still maintain its support to Kyiv, insisting that “we will support Ukraine as long as necessary”.