Kyiv, Ukraine — German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius pledged on Tuesday to continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to win its war against Russia, pledging additional military aid worth 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion).
The new support will include additional Iris-T SLM anti-aircraft missile systems as well as anti-tank mines and 155-millimeter artillery shells, German news agency dpa reported.
“We are talking about 20,000 additional shells,” Pistorius said at a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov in kyiv, according to dpa.
Andrii Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said it was a “considerable aid package.”
Pistorius’ unannounced trip to the Ukrainian capital came a day after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Ukraine and pledged “long-term” US support, including $100 million additional weapons from American stocks.
The visits appear to be part of an international political effort to keep the war in the public mind while other issues demand attention, notably the Israel-Hamas conflict.
European Council President Charles Michel also arrived in kyiv on Tuesday, to mark the 10th anniversary of what Ukraine calls its Revolution of Dignity. This uprising brought a momentous change for Ukraine, bringing it closer to the West and leading to a confrontation with Moscow.
Pistorius paid tribute to protesters killed during pro-EU protests a decade ago, dpa reported.
“Brave people of all ages took to the streets for freedom, for rapprochement with Europe and paid for it with their lives,” Pistorius said. He placed red roses at a makeshift memorial to those killed.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed in a video message Ukraine’s desire for freedom and its candidacy for membership in the 27-member European Union. “The future of Ukraine is in the European Union,” she said.
“The future that Maidan fought for has finally begun,” she said, referring to Independence Square in central Kiev.
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 d’état, ‘a violent coup d’état financed from abroad’.
Ukraine’s current struggle to push back Kremlin forces has lasted nearly 21 months. A recent Ukrainian counteroffensive has apparently brought no major changes to the battlefield, and another difficult winter of war of attrition lies ahead.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia could again target Ukraine’s power grid, just as it did last winter, when Moscow sought to wear down local resistance by denying civilians heat and running water.
“Russia has refrained from launching its main air-launched cruise missiles from its fleet of heavy bombers for almost two months, which has likely allowed it to build up a substantial stockpile of these weapons,” the ministry said on Tuesday in London.
Germany is the second-largest provider of military and financial support to Ukraine after the United States, and German officials said Pistorius aimed to assess the effectiveness of his aid as well as take stock about the fighting during his visit.
Pistorius said he wanted to “express our solidarity, our deep solidarity and our admiration for the courageous, courageous and costly fight that is being waged here”.
Meanwhile, two Russian missiles struck a hospital in the eastern Donetsk region, injuring six people and possibly leaving others buried under rubble, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said Tuesday.
Russian forces attacked Ukraine overnight with ten Shahed-type drones, four S-300 missiles and an Iskander-K cruise missile, the Ukrainian Air Force announced on Tuesday.
Nine Shahed drones and the Iskander-K missile were successfully intercepted on Monday evening, the statement said. No casualties were immediately reported.
At least five Ukrainian civilians were killed and ten others injured in the country’s southeastern regions over the past 24 hours, the presidential office announced on Tuesday.
Civilians are victims of Russian barrages almost daily. At least 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, including more than 560 children, have been killed and more than 18,500 injured since Russia’s full-scale invasion, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission said Tuesday. United in Ukraine.
Separately, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukrainian efforts to cross the Dnieper River on the southern front line had failed.
He told the Russian military’s top brass that Moscow’s forces are “steadily holding their positions along the line of contact and gradually improving their positions.”
The Ukrainian military said last week that its troops had secured several bridgeheads on the eastern bank of the river in the Kherson region. This would be a modest, but potentially significant, strategic advance in a context of largely stalled fighting.
Associated Press journalists Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine