Ten years ago pro-European protests began on Independence Square in Ukraine, marking the start of efforts by the Ukrainian people to achieve a free and democratic Ukraine. “Ten years ago we witnessed what happened here and we are still witnessing its repercussions,” said Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday. For almost 21 months, Ukrainians have continued to fight for their freedom, but now against an external aggressor.
“Ukraine belongs in Europe and we are standing by its side”
“Ten years ago the Maidan became a symbol of freedom, democracy and sovereignty. We have not forgotten the courage of the Ukrainian people. Ukraine belongs in Europe and we are standing by its side,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that “ten years ago we could already hear from the Maidan how strongly the heart of Ukraine was beating for Europe, borne up by courage and hope for a future in freedom. Back then Ukrainians decided to take the path towards Europe, and today we are walking that path together.”
Admiration for brave struggle
Defence Minister Pistorius said his visit expressed Germany’s “solidarity and deep friendship, but also our admiration for the brave, courageous struggle which took place here and involved heavy losses.” The Defence Minister pledged Germany’s ongoing support for Ukraine.
Commitment to further military aid
On Pistorius’ second visit to Ukraine in his role as Defence Minister his talks with the Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov focused on training Ukrainian troops and providing weapons to support the country. At the meeting Pistorius announced that Germany would provide an additional 1.3 billion euros in military aid, including the Iris T-SLM air defence system.
What happened on Maidan Square?
Ten years ago, on 21 November 2013, protests began on Kyiv’s Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Ukrainian), calling for the signing of a rapprochement agreement with the European Union. These were triggered by the Ukrainian government announcing that it did not intend to sign the planned association agreement with the European Union. Three months of at times violent protests led to the fall of the then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia. Dozens of demonstrators and 17 police officers were shot. In response Russia occupied the Crimean peninsula in the spring of 2014 and annexed it shortly thereafter. Russia began its war of aggression against Ukraine in February 2022, which continues to this day.