German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made a surprise visit to Kyiv Monday, Sept. 11, promising unwavering support for Ukraine and praising its progress on the path towards EU membership.

"With enormous courage and determination, Ukraine is also defending the freedom of all of us," Baerbock said in a statement released by the foreign ministry upon her arrival.

And Ukraine can "count on us" in return, Baerbock added.

"We will not let up in our efforts to support Ukraine in its defence against Russia's aggression: economically, militarily, and in the humanitarian" sphere, Baerbock said.

It was Baerbock's fourth visit to Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion in February 2022.

Ukraine's bid for European Union membership is expected to be among the topics of discussion with Ukrainian officials during this trip.

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Ukraine received EU candidacy status a year ago and is hoping to begin formal negotiations this year on what it needs to do to firm up its membership bid.

Baerbock said Ukraine had already made "good progress" in some areas including judicial reforms, but said it still had "some way to go" in tackling corruption.

She reaffirmed Germany's "resolute support for Ukraine on its way into the European Union".

"And we as the EU must now work quickly to ensure we are properly positioned for more chairs at the table," she added.

In the statement, Baerbock also voiced dismay at the forced transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "will stop at nothing" to break the Ukrainian people, she said.

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"We support the organisations, Ukrainian authorities and NGOs who are working to bring the abducted children back home," Baerbock said.

"Nothing justifies waging this war on the backs of the most innocent, the children," she said.

"The very first step towards peace is for Putin to let these children go back home."

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