KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Tuesday and vowed to keep supporting Kyiv’s efforts to win its war against Russia.
His trip came a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Ukraine and pledged American support “for the long haul,” including an additional $100 million in weapons from U.S. stockpiles.
The visits appeared to be part of an international political effort to keep the war in the public mind as other issues clamor for attention, including the Israel-Hamas conflict.
European Council President Charles Michel also arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday, which is the 10th anniversary of what Ukraine calls its Revolution of Dignity. That uprising brought momentous change for Ukraine, pushing it closer to the West and bringing confrontation with Moscow.
Pistorius paid tribute to the demonstrators who were killed during the pro-European protests 10 years ago, dpa reported.
“Courageous people of all ages took to the streets for freedom, for rapprochement with Europe, and paid for it with their lives,” Pistorius said. He put down red roses at a makeshift memorial to those killed.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in a video message, saluted the Ukrainian desire for freedom and its application to join the 27-nation European Union. “The future of Ukraine is in the European Union,” she said.
“The future that the Maidan fought for has finally just begun,” she said in a reference to central Kyiv’s Independence Square.
For Moscow, the Ukrainian revolt was fomented by Western interests, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday reaffirmed the Kremlin’s view that it was “a coup, a forceful coup financed from abroad.”
Ukraine’s current fight to push out the Kremlin’s forces has lasted almost 21 months. A recent Ukrainian counteroffensive apparently has yielded no major changes on the battlefield, and another tough winter of attritional warfare lies ahead.
Germany is the second biggest single provider of military and financial support to Ukraine after the United States, and German officials said Pistorius aimed to assess the effectiveness of its aid as well as take stock of the fighting during his visit.
“I am here again, firstly to pledge further support,” Pistorius said at the start of his second Kyiv visit, adding that he also wants to “express our solidarity, our deep solidarity and admiration for the courageous, brave and costly fight that is being waged here.”
Pistorius was to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov, German news agency dpa reported.
Meanwhile, two Russian missiles struck a hospital in the eastern Donetsk region, wounding six people and possibly leaving more buried under rubble, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said Tuesday.
Russian forces attacked Ukraine overnight with 10 Shahed-type drones, four S-300 missiles and one Iskander-K cruise missile, Ukraine’s air force said Tuesday.
Nine Shahed drones and the Iskander-K missile were successfully intercepted on Monday night, it said. No casualties were immediately reported.
At least five Ukrainian civilians were killed and 10 others were injured in southeastern regions of the country over the previous 24 hours, the presidential office said Tuesday.
Civilians have been victims of Russia’s barrages on an almost daily basis.
Associated Press Writer Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine