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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Development Minister: Schulze in Odessa: Reconstruction in the middle of the war

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Ramstein is about heavy weapons for Ukraine in the fight against the Russian war of aggression. Development Minister Schulze has other support with her when she visits Odessa.

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Development Minister Svenja Schulze has pledged an additional 52 million euros for Ukraine’s reconstruction in the face of ongoing Russian attacks on infrastructure.

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“In the middle of the war we are in the process of rebuilding Ukraine into a free, independent Ukraine,” said the SPD politician on Thursday during a visit to the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, which was kept secret for security reasons.

The additional millions in aid for the Ukrainian municipalities are to flow into warming rooms, generators, medical care and administration. In 2022, the Development Ministry (BMZ) supported Ukraine with around 600 million euros. Schulze is in Ukraine for the second time since Russia attacked on February 24, 2022. At the end of May she visited the capital Kyiv.

Accompanied by the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Olexander Kubrakov, Schulze spent ten hours getting a picture of reconstruction in the middle of the war. On Friday she wanted to visit a community near the border in the neighboring Republic of Moldova.

In the power substation: Partially destroyed twice already

Parts of the substation of the electricity network operator UkrEnergo have already been destroyed twice, reports the station manager. On December 5, the Russians fired seven rockets at the plant. Four are intercepted, three hit. In the second attack on December 29, a missile hits. No one was injured – but the destroyed transformer can still be seen on the site, dented and charred. Now it’s being rebuilt.

Also on December 11, two important power plants in the Odessa region are shelled – 1.5 million people are without electricity afterwards. How people help each other can be seen everywhere: There are power generators on the sidewalk in front of many shops. With more than 320 million euros, Germany has been supporting Ukraine not only since the beginning of the war as part of the energy partnership. Technicians are trained to make the electricity grid more efficient and compatible with that in the rest of Europe.

Warming rooms call them “points of inflexibility”

In Starokosatsche (loosely translated: “Village of Old Cossacks”), Mayor Vadym Boyko shows Schulze a warming room. “They call this the point of inflexibility,” she says appreciatively. In addition to warmth and places to sleep, there is food, first aid and sometimes a celebration. After the Russian attacks on the electricity and heat supply began, such contact points have sprung up all over the country.

According to the minister, the supply of electricity, heat and water determines the resilience of Ukrainian society. “That’s why Ukraine needs not only weapons, but also civilian support to stay strong.” Among other things, Germany has supplied the municipality with seven power generators, an operating table and four medical beds for the hospital.

30 percent of the residents of Starokozache have no electricity. The rotor blades of wind turbines are turning nearby, and more are under construction. Solar power is also used – Ukraine wants to become less dependent on Russian gas and electricity.

At around 10:15 a.m. there was an air alert and Russian warplanes were located over Belarus. The children routinely go to the air-raid shelter – directly under the auditorium. Schulze has to go to the next appointment, she is driving in a specially protected convoy.

Spilno means: Together. A place for children

Air raid alarm, hours in the shelter – no child is left without a trace, says Letizia Dell’Assin from the UN children’s charity Unicef, as Schulze looks at an aid center. Unicef ​​has created more than 100 “Spilno” places for children. In German Spilno means: together. There is education, health, psychological and medical help for traumatized children.

Schulze watches the girls and boys painting little wooden hearts. She has yo-yos, crayons and finger paints with her. BMZ has been supporting Unicef ​​with the program since 2014, the year the Russians annexed Crimea. At the end of 2022, the cooperation was increased by 35 million euros. “There is the material damage that you can see on the power plants or the buildings,” says Schulze. “But the psychological damage is no less important, especially in the children.”

Stagnant Black Sea Grains Initiative

Only a handful of ships can be seen in the vast grain port of Chornomorsk. Grain is loaded onto a freighter at a quay for transport to Turkey. Thousands of tons of wheat, corn and other foodstuffs are exported from here as part of the Black Sea Grains Initiative, which was decided in 2022 with Turkish mediation.

Before the attack, Ukraine was one of the top grain exporters in the world alongside Russia. But because of the war, the port is only being used to 30 percent, complains an employee of the port authority. Because of delays in checking ships for weapons by Russia, which agreed to the Black Sea Initiative after lengthy negotiations, 80 grain carriers would be backed up in the Bosphorus. The agreement must be extended again in March – it remains to be seen whether Moscow will agree to this.

Source: Stern

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