Germany demands justice for Bucha victims

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has arrived in Ukraine as the top German government official to visit the country since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Her first stop was in the town of Bucha, near Kiev, where Russian troops are accused of committing atrocities that Western countries believe were tantamount to war crimes.

Moscow, which has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in its invasion of Ukraine, called allegations that its troops executed civilians in Bucha while occupying the city a “monstrous forgery” aimed at denigrating the military.

Baerbock’s visit came as Kiev and Berlin attempted to restore ties after arguing over issues such as Berlin’s unwillingness to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine and his previous support for dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Baerbock toured the city with Ukraine’s Attorney General and said those responsible for the Bucha murders should be brought to justice.

“We owe that to the victims,” ​​she said. “And these victims, you feel that very intensely here, these victims could have been us.”

Germany has become one of the largest arms suppliers to Ukraine and has put its shoulders to heavy sanctions against Russia, including a proposed embargo on Russian oil purchases.

But the tires were prickly. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was reluctant to visit Ukraine because Kiev did not want to receive German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Steinmeier, Scholz’s social-democratic ally, is unpopular in Kiev because he is associated there with an earlier German policy of pursuing close trade and other ties with Putin’s Russia.

Andriy Melnyk, Ukraine’s outspoken ambassador to Berlin, called Scholz’s reasons “offended liverwurst”, implying that he was behaving like a surly child.

Scholz is now planning a trip after he and Steinmeier were invited by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra also traveled to Kiev with Baerbock on Tuesday, according to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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