German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spent more than an hour in a Ukrainian bomb shelter on Tuesday due to an air raid warning, state broadcaster ARD reported.
Correspondent Rebecca Barth posted an image of Steinmeier and other officials sharing a small room with a crowd of people on Twitter.
No airstrikes on the city were reported during the day, and the incident coincided with kyiv making an urgent appeal to Berlin to provide Iris-T air defense systems.
To that end, Ukrainian officials had even placed iris flowers in the president’s car as he traveled to Kyiv, along with cards requesting the equipment.
According to Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, the alarm was raised as the German president spoke to the media in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernigov. The official said it was “a very good illustration why Ukraine needs more air defense systems” as soon as possible.
Berlin has pledged to send state-of-the-art launchers to Ukraine in June. Only one of the promised four units has been delivered so far. On Monday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to deliver the other three as soon as possible.
Bundespräsident Steinmeier ist das erste Mal seit Kriegsbeginn in der Ukraine. Doch seine Pläne werden vom Luftalarm durchkreuzt. For 1.5 Stunden muss er im Keller Schutz suchen. Trauriger Alltag für Millionen Menschen in diesem Land. pic.twitter.com/TIdvRyFzhw
— Rebecca Barth (@barthreb) October 25, 2022
kyiv has repeatedly criticized Berlin for not providing enough military assistance and for refusing to send it Leopard battle tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles. The Ukrainians also requested at least a dozen Iris-Ts, according to some reports.
This is Steinmeier’s first visit to Ukraine since the start of the conflict between kyiv and Moscow in late February. It was originally scheduled for last week but was delayed for security reasons.
German President arrives in Kyiv
The president came to Ukraine to assure it of Berlin’s continued support, but mostly focused on repairing infrastructure and “urban partnership networks”, according to his spokesperson, Cerstin Gammelin.
The president too encouraged The Germans, who had to limit their energy consumption and heating temperatures due to an energy shortage caused in part by the EU’s desire to get rid of Russian energy imports, to “Look through the eyes of Ukrainians for a moment.”
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