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Germany’s Annalena Baerbock to visit Ukraine

Germany’s Annalena Baerbock to visit Ukraine

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BERLIN — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will soon travel to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday.

The announcement came on the day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy extended an invitation to Scholz, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the entire German government to visit Kyiv following weeks of diplomatic tension with Berlin.

Before and after a phone call in which Steinmeier and Zelenskyy tried to resolve their issues — centered around Kyiv’s misgivings about Steinmeier’s previously soft stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin — Steinmeier and Scholz had “exhaustive conversations,” the latter told reporters in Berlin.

“As a result of the conversation we agreed that the foreign minister will be in Ukraine in the near future,” Scholz said, adding that it was “a good thing” that Steinmeier and Zelenskyy had a “very diligent” chat.

Thursday’s developments came as a relief to those in Berlin government circles who were unhappy about the awkward atmosphere between Zelenskyy and Steinmeier as well as Scholz’s reaction to their spat, which was to hold off on his own trip to Ukraine in what some perceived as unwarranted sulking.

But on Thursday, Scholz praised Ukraine for the fight it has been putting up against Putin.

“Russia failed to achieve all the goals it pursued with this war — I’m sure that Russia intended to conquer all of Ukraine in a very short time,” Scholz said.

“The fact is that the unbelievable military commitment that Russia is showing [in eastern Ukraine] does not give rise to any hope that it will all come to an end anytime soon,” he said, decrying the “incredible destruction” in the country.

Scholz also confirmed a plan raised earlier by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, according to which the Czech Republic will deliver heavy Soviet-era weapons to Ukraine with Germany replacing them in a so-called tank swap.

Hans von der Burchard contributed reporting.

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