AOn Sunday, a group of Green politicians from Germany and three other countries returned from a visit to Ukraine. Six MEPs and the chairman of the Bundestag’s Europe Committee, Anton Hofreiter, experienced a capital in largely darkness in Kyiv, even though everything worked in their hotel in the government district except for the warm water and a thin layer of snow brightened the darkness somewhat.
Ever since Russia launched a targeted attack on the energy supply, life in the country has become even more difficult. Millions of residents of Ukraine are temporarily without electricity, without water and without district heating. According to the gas company Naftohas, Russia also attacked natural gas production facilities from the air for the first time on Thursday.
These extraction points were located in the Kharkiv region; Today, the Ukraine covers a significant proportion of its gas needs through self-production. “It would be even worse,” reported an expert from a delegation member, “if the huge underground gas storage facilities in western Ukraine, or more precisely their above-ground infrastructure, were also to be attacked.”
The economist Oleksandra Betlij from the Kiev Institute IER gave the visitors an overview of the economic situation. Before the wave of attacks on infrastructure, Ukraine expected the economy to shrink by 32 percent this year, but now it could be even more.
Unemployment has risen from 10 percent before the war to about 30 percent; in October, inflation reached 26 percent compared to the same month last year, and the trend is rising; Foodstuffs are particularly affected by price increases.
Equipment stolen from hospitals
The reform successes of Ukraine in recent years, for example in the health system, are at stake: “In the Cherson region, the withdrawing Russian soldiers stole the equipment from the hospitals. They were amazed that the hospitals were computerized,” reported Betliy.
In the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM), which has been supporting the security and judicial authorities for years, the guests were told that the occupiers had “transferred” 2,000 of these organizations’ vehicles to Russia by the summer alone.
War eats into all areas of life. Artur Herasimov from the main opposition party, European Solidarity, reported that almost three million hectares of forest had been affected by the war and 100,000 hectares had been “totally destroyed”, in part by illegal logging.
“Russia wants to destroy Ukraine as a country and as a nation. This is a genocide.” In this situation, critical questions to the camp around President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be put on hold “until victory”. But there is one exception: freedom of the media. The fact that terrestrial broadcasts were stopped for three pro-opposition television stations at the beginning of the war is a bad development.
Diplomats from EU countries working in Kyiv predicted to the visitors for the next few months: “Ukrainians will not relax militarily, even if Russia should get back on its feet militarily. The people of Ukraine are still willing to endure suffering.” At the same time, the Ukrainians want more arms deliveries.
Anton Hofreiter, who had held talks in Poland on the way there, told the FAZ: “I suggested in Warsaw that Poland offer Ukraine ten of its more than 200 Leopard tanks. Polish opposition politicians were in favor, while government officials were more cautious. Such an initiative would find supporters and increase the pressure on Berlin, for example, to give 50 pieces.”
Nine EU member states have German-made Leopard tanks, and Berlin would have to give permission to export them. Hofreiter currently sees the military situation in Ukraine as favorable; therefore, one should seize the opportunity to support their army now.
“Russia’s attempt to terrorize the population is failing. The Ukrainians are suffering, but they won’t be intimidated,” said Hofreiter. According to visitors, this even applies to those who have been in Russian captivity for years because of the war in Donbass that began in 2014. The delegation had dinner with their families on Friday.