Hanna Hopko has a question for the Germans. “Are you helping us to win, or are you just helping us not to collapse?” The Ukrainian politician and activist came to Berlin together with a group of MPs from her country and several EU countries to call for more support for the Russian government in the face of the Russian war of aggression to advertise Ukraine. “We need more weapons and faster deliveries.”
If Germany and France really want to make the European Union a geopolitical player, then it is in their interest to help Ukraine win the war.
Hopko is no stranger to political Berlin. She was one of the leading figures in the Maidan revolution in 2013 and 2014. The protests were triggered by the then President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a negotiated association agreement with the EU. After the change of power in Kyiv in 2014, Hopko, together with other representatives of civil society, put pressure on the new government to implement the necessary reforms quickly.
She later went into politics herself, was elected to the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, and chaired the foreign affairs committee in Kyiv. Although she is no longer a member of Parliament, she has returned to the international stage to fight for her country.
Several MPs from Ukraine will be present in Berlin, as well as the former head of government of Lithuania, Andrius Kubilius, the Czech Senator Pavel Fischer and the German MEPs Sergey Lagodinsky (Greens) and Michael Gahler (CDU). You have joined forces in the “United for Ukraine” network and now you want to explain in several European capitals how urgently you think the help for Ukraine is.
“The future of Europe and Europe’s security are being decided today in Ukraine,” says Fischer, who heads the Czech Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense. In Berlin, the group had appointments in the Chancellery, in the Foreign Office and with members of the Bundestag.
The former Deputy Prime Minister in Kyiv, Ivanna Klympush, praises the Bundestag’s vote to also support Ukraine with heavy weapons. “But three weeks later there is still no delivery of heavy weapons from Germany.” Every hour of delay costs lives.
Klympush, who heads the Rada’s Committee on European Integration, points out that countries such as the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Great Britain and the USA have already sent heavy weapons to Ukraine. “Unfortunately, Germany is wasting time and finding all sorts of excuses” why, for example, Marder armored personnel carriers could not be delivered.
Lithuania’s ex-Prime Minister Kubilius is also critical of the role of the federal government: “Germany still falls short of what is needed.” The danger is “that you wait so long that you don’t have to do anything anymore,” says the Ukrainian MP Dmytro Natalukha. Germany and France should also not put pressure on Ukraine to agree to a quick ceasefire.
In mid-July, Ukraine is to receive the first 15 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks from German industry stocks. However, only 59,000 rounds of ammunition are available so far, which is very little given that the Cheetah can fire up to 1100 rounds per minute.
The Ampel government has also already promised that the German armed forces will make seven Panzerhaubitz 2000s available to the Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers are currently being trained on howitzers in Germany.
In addition to the topic of arms deliveries, the international delegation also brought another concern to Berlin: “It is important that Ukraine is given the status of an EU accession candidate,” says Hopko. This has to happen during the French Council Presidency, i.e. by the end of June. For Ukraine, this step is of great symbolic importance. 93 percent of Ukrainians support their country’s European integration, says Klympush.
It is important that Ukraine is not offered “any kind of substitute,” she emphasizes, referring to statements by French President Emmanuel Macron that a new structure, a “European political community,” could be created for Ukraine and other states. “We know that we still have a lot of reforms ahead of us,” says the MEP. “But we need a glimmer of hope.”