Status: 07/26/2022 09:21
Reconstruction and administrative agreements were also discussed during the visit of Ministers Faeser and Heil to Ukraine. Against a background of destruction, sympathy mixed with a sober policy.
For a month, residents of Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv, repelled Russian attacks – and thus defended the capital Kyiv. The two ministers, Nancy Faeser and Hubertus Heil, hear this sentence a few times this Monday morning. The sun is shining, there is little shade, the ministers wear heavy bulletproof vests.
And yet they patiently listen to their interlocutors – the mayor of Irpin, for example, or the deputy interior minister. Around 100 civilians died in Russian attacks on Irpin in the spring of this year. 70% of the houses were damaged, many even completely destroyed.
Again and again Faeser and Heil express their sympathy. Especially when the descriptions of the war are particularly cruel, for example when it is a question of tanks having deliberately crushed corpses. But they don’t want to stick to sympathy alone. Neither on the German side nor on the Ukrainian side. It is clear that the visit of the German ministers aims to bring concrete help to Ukraine. Only: where to start?
No time to waste
A key word that keeps coming back: reconstruction. The damage to many houses needs to be repaired quickly, Irpin is told, or many buildings risk collapsing. The message: There is no time to waste. Another key word: civil protection. Although they have ambulances or helicopters, according to the Ukrainians, these are often not used in times of war. In the future, there will be a need for more armored ambulances that can also drive into areas where shots are fired. And new modules are needed for helicopters so that they can also be used for medical purposes, such as transporting patients.
Key words that the German ministers will take up again and again in their talks with journalists and probably also with their Ukrainian ministerial colleagues in the afternoon.
Favors that seem small
However, that doesn’t sound like a big, quick fix. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are planning a conference in the second half of the year to promote reconstruction in Ukraine. Faeser and Heil seem to think more in terms of process.
In any case, Germany has already invested hundreds of millions in civilian aid to Ukraine. The two articulated trucks, the generators and the drone, which the German delegation also takes with them on this trip, are another “symbol” of German aid. When the gifts are presented and handed over in Michael Square in Kyiv in the afternoon, they still seem a little modest given the massive destruction in Ukraine.
No big surprises in store
The Minister of Labor stresses that it is not just about military and humanitarian aid. But also for economic support in times of war. Heil thinks of the administrative reforms that Germany can advise, with the help of the Federal Employment Agency and of the instruments of the German labor market which have proven their effectiveness, such as partial unemployment. How these ideas could quickly and concretely bolster Ukraine’s wartime economy remains unclear to say the least.
Faeser and Heil’s plan isn’t a big surprise, it’s rather small-scale and long-term. We are talking about administrative agreements. More cooperation between the BKA and its partners in Ukraine, for example to better uncover war crimes. In addition to the previous full-time fire brigade, Faeser and Heil offer a volunteer fire brigade – based on the German model.
Ministers therefore want to turn many small screws. This also applies to the issue of refugee children. “How is the mutual training going?” Asks the Minister of the Interior. What we mean is: what do German schools know about the digital lessons that refugee students also follow with their former Ukrainian schools. Courses need to be “more tightly interconnected”. An initiative will also be launched for this purpose.
The visit of the German ministers to Kyiv was like a meeting of great heroic stories against the backdrop of destruction on the one hand and restrained German policy with sympathy, administrative agreements and proposals for reform.