Berlin (The Times Groupe)- Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock backed a probe into Russia’s “war crimes” in Ukraine.
Baerbock is the first member of the German government to visit Ukraine since Russia’s war on the country began on Feb. 24.
Along with 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. But Moscow has called the images of corpses lining the streets “fakes.”
Baerbock demanded that those responsible for the alleged atrocities be brought to justice after hearing accounts of the alleged crimes.
“We owe this to the victims,” she told public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Those victims, as we can feel so strongly here, could have been us.”
In a tweet, she wrote: “We’ll collect evidence as a community. Germany pledges to fully support Venediktova in investigating war crimes: politically, financially, and personnel-wise.”
After visiting the devastated Kyiv suburb of Irpin, Baerbock commended the Ukrainians for their courage as they fought 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.”
Later, the foreign minister announced the reopening of the German Embassy in Kiev, which had been closed since mid-February.
During a press conference with Dmytro Kuleba, she said that Ukraine could join the EU but “no shortcuts” were possible.”
The visit was made as Germany continues to face criticism over its policy toward Russia, which is perceived as favoring economic interests over human rights.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government maintained a cautious policy and refused to supply weapons to Ukraine, but reversed that policy in February.
Earlier this month, the government increased its stance and approved the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine, including seven howitzer artillery systems.
After days of diplomatic tension over his canceled visit to Kyiv, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke by telephone with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, last week.
The leaders described the conversation as “very important” and said that previous irritants had been addressed.
Steinmeier and Scholz have now both been invited to Kyiv.