35 kilometres. That is the distance between Potsdam and Berlin. I know it well, as I travel it every day. During the journey, I work, make phone calls, think about my children. It’s a life in freedom.
35 kilometres is also the distance between Kyiv and Bucha, a town like Potsdam, at the heart of Europe, with playgrounds and shopping malls. But along the streets of Bucha these places now bear the scars of war. When the Russian soldiers arrived in early March, Bucha’s inhabitants looked into the abyss and witnessed hell.
Bucha has now been liberated, but the attack on Ukraine continues. This is also an attack on the European peace order. An attack on our life in freedom in Vilnius, Kraków and Potsdam. That is why we, as Europeans, are taking a united stance against Russia’s brutal war of aggression.
After 100 days of war, Putin has changed his strategy, but hell on earth continues.
He underestimated the courage of the Ukrainian people.
That is why he is now firing from a safe distance at village after village, town after town. First comes a rain of fire by bombs and artillery, then the tanks roll across the flattened ground. Putin is playing for time and counting on us becoming worn down by the war. Every village is at risk of becoming a new Bucha.
That is why, now more than ever, we must continue to stand with Ukraine. And our support must include weapons, as Putin cannot be stopped by words.
100 days of war. Now more than ever, we need to look at what is happening, even if it is painful to do so.
Some people in our country experienced war themselves. Many of them remember what dictatorship means. It is also thanks to our Allies and neighbours that we can now live in freedom and security.
As the largest country in the EU, we have a responsibility to act.
I do not want to only be able to tell our partners in the Baltic States and eastern Europe that we understand them, but rather to say that we are here for them and they can count on us ‒ the way they were there for us when we needed them. Without them, free and reunited Germany would not exist.
That is why Germany is acting, even if it is difficult. But never again will we be a mere bystander to our joint security. Instead, we will be an active player. Alongside our partners in the EU and in NATO, we are restructuring our defence. Yes, freedom costs money. But every last cent we spend on defence is an investment in security and freedom, in Europe’s freedom.
As long as Ukraine is not safe, nor is Europe. If Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, there will be an ongoing risk of new aggression.
We will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes to ensure that what happened in Bucha does not happen again and that a life in freedom, something we take so much for granted, becomes normal once again for people in Ukraine.