Germany to stop Russian energy imports ‘forever’: Baerbock

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Germany to stop Russian energy imports 'forever’: Baerbock

Germany is in the process of reducing its dependence on Russian energy "to zero – forever," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday during the first visit by a member of the German government to Kiev since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Speaking at a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, Baerbock said there could be no common ground with Russia, a country she described as an "aggressor" that does not respect rules and commits war crimes.

Even though Russian troops had retreated from Kiev, the war was not over, Baerbock said. "A missile can strike just about anywhere in this country," she said.

Baerbock also announced that the country's embassy in Kiev would re-open later on Tuesday with a skeleton staff.

Operations were shut down in mid-February in anticipation of the war, with embassy operations being run out of western Ukraine and Berlin.

Other countries including the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Britain and Austria have already reopened their embassies in Kiev in the wake of the Russian troops' withdrawal from the capital.

Earlier on Tuesday, Baerbock was received by an employee of the German Embassy at his house and was accompanied by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

Baerbock then visited Bucha, the town near the capital where hundreds of bodies of civilians were discovered last month after Russian troops had retreated.

The visit comes amid a debate about whether and when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will make the trip as a show of support for Ukraine's defence against Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had invited the chancellor for May 9, the day Russia celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany at the end of World War II.

Though Zelensky said at the time that a visit from Scholz on that day would send a "very strong" political message, the chancellor declined the invitation.

There have been tensions between the German and the Ukrainian leadership since Steinmeier was told at short notice not visit in mid-April.

Kiev's decision came amid sustained criticism of Steinmeier's ties with Russia and broader criticism from Ukrainian leaders of the time taken for Berlin to supply Ukraine with heavier weaponry.

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