German foreign minister vows ‘justice’ for Bucha on Ukraine visit

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says the international community must ensure that Russia is held accountable for war crimes.

Annalena Baerbock looks at photographs
Annalena Baerbock (centre) said 'the worst crimes imaginable' had occurred in Bucha [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has vowed to ensure accountability for crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine during a visit to war-torn areas around Kyiv.

“We owe it to the victims to not only commemorate here, but to also hold the perpetrators accountable. This is what we are going to do as the international community, that’s the promise that we can and must give here in Bucha,” Baerbock said during an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Tuesday.

The minister said Bucha was a place where “the worst crimes imaginable” had occurred.

“No one can take away the pain … but we can ensure justice,” she said.

Baerbock was accompanied on her visit by Ukraine’s attorney general, who is investigating the killings. The head of the United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, said on Tuesday that it had received reports of more than 300 men, women and children being unlawfully killed in Bucha during the occupation.

Speaking at a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, Baerbock said there could be no common ground with Russia, an “aggressor” that does not respect rules and commits war crimes.

She said Germany is in the process of reducing its dependence on Russian energy imports “to zero – forever”.

Separately, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra was also on an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Tuesday. He said on Twitter that he had visited Irpin, another town near Bucha where Russian troops are alleged to have carried out atrocities.

“The bombed-out houses and buildings illustrate the impact the war has had on the lives of the men, women and children who live here. These acts cannot go unpunished,” Hoekstra said, adding his government was involved in “several accountability efforts”.

The Netherlands was helping through “financial contributions to the investigations by the International Criminal Court and the UN commission of inquiry, and through the deployment of a forensic team in Ukraine,” he said.

Hoekstra was due to meet later in the day with Kuleba and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a spokesman from the Dutch foreign ministry said.

He will also “officially” reopen the Netherlands embassy in Kyiv, the spokesman said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies