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German FM Annalena Baerbock visits front line in Ukraine conflict

Published February 08,2022
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited the front line of Ukraine's long-running conflict with Russia in the eastern region of Donbas on Tuesday.

Wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest, Baerbock listened while a commander of the Ukrainian government troops explained the current military situation to her.

Germany's top diplomat has also said she wants to assess the humanitarian situation in the area, where Ukrainian government troops are battling against separatist forces supported by Russia.

During talks with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kiev on Monday, Baerbock said of her visit to the front line, "I want to send a clear signal: We, together as Europeans, will not look away. We will not forget the people whose fates are affected by this conflict. And we stand at Ukraine's side."

A peace plan for the Donbas region, negotiated with the help of Germany and France in the Belarusian capital Minsk, has stalled as Ukraine and Russia trade accusations of violations.

According to UN estimates, more than 14,000 people have been killed in fighting in Donbas since the conflict began in 2014.

Political leaders throughout Europe are currently intensifying their diplomatic efforts in response to renewed tensions after Russia massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders.

Baerbock had originally planned to travel to the front line together with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. However, Le Drian had to cancel in order to accompany French President Emmanuel Macron on his trip to to Moscow and Kiev.

Later Tuesday, the German foreign minister is scheduled to meet with representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, in which 44 nations are involved. Germany contributes over 40 people to the mission.

In a suburb of the port city of Mariupol', Baerbock is also scheduled to meet with representatives of the non-governmental organization Berehynja (Guardian), which has been providing legal and psychological assistance to hundreds of refugee women and women living near the line of contact since 2015.

Baerbock's itinerary also includes a visit to a water pumping station in Mariupol' that was modernized with German help.