With my second visit to Ukraine within less than a month I am continuing to practise what is ultimately the essence of diplomacy: endeavouring to defuse extremely dangerous conflicts through peaceful means. With regard to Russia and Ukraine we have all realised in recent weeks that this is not an easy task. At the same time we are all aware of what is at stake when we observe the gathering of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, its military manoeuvres and other threats and provocations: nothing less than peace in Europe. No effort can be too much for us when it comes to defending this value, and we shall do everything in our power to do so.
During my visit to Kyiv I will once again state in no uncertain terms where we stand: as a partner of Ukraine in the EU, NATO and the G7 we categorically support the territorial integrity of the country and stand alongside the people there. Together we will respond with tough, very specific measures to any further aggression by Russia towards Ukraine.
In this volatile situation I am particularly impressed by one thing: the circumspection shown by the people in Ukraine. For our efforts to defuse the situation through negotiation channels such as the Normandy format are focused ultimately not on purely political issues but on these very people. They live in constant fear of escalation, they are struggling to survive another winter in desolate humanitarian conditions, they lack prospects – and all this at the heart of Europe. That is why this time I will travel to the “contact line” in eastern Ukraine as well as holding political talks with President Zelensky and Foreign Minister Kuleba. I will listen to the people who live there and gain a first-hand impression of their experiences, impressions and concerns which I can then channel into the political talks, which we intend to continue with all due urgency.