According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, Ukraine has not received an official request for a visit from Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Nor was it done by Steinmeier’s office, Selenskyj said, according to Reuters news agency. “We are a free country,” Zelenskyj said accordingly. “We can afford to surround ourselves with those who really support us, to surround ourselves with real friends.”
In an interview with CNN television on Wednesday, an adviser to Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Serhiy Leshchenko, claimed that Steinmeier had not been uninvited at all. As the Tagesspiegel learned, there was a formal rejection at ambassadorial level.
Tuesday evening, we learned that Selenskyj Steinmeier apparently did not want to receive in kyiv. The Federal President’s planned trip to Ukraine has erupted.
In recent days, Polish President Andrzej Duda had offered to visit the Ukrainian capital with the heads of state of the Baltic states “to send and pose a strong sign of common European solidarity with Ukraine”, Steinmeier said on Tuesday during of his visit to Warsaw. “I was ready for that. But obviously – and I have to take note – it wasn’t wanted in Kyiv.”
First, the “Bild” newspaper reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused a visit by the Federal President to Kyiv. The reason is Steinmeier’s close ties to Russia in recent years, the newspaper writes.
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The Greens’ foreign policy spokesman in the Bundestag, Jürgen Trittin, is calling on Ukraine to withdraw its cancellation of Steinmeier’s visit to Kyiv. “It doesn’t work like that,” Trittin told Editorial Network Germany (RND).
“Declaring the German head of state, who has just been re-elected, an undesirable person is a great propaganda success for Vladimir Putin.” If you want to divide Europeans, then you have to do it like the Ukrainian president. “We expect Ukraine to take that back.”
Instead, Ukraine is now inviting Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to kyiv. “We also communicated that my president and the government would be very happy if Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Kyiv,” Ukraine’s Ambassador to Berlin Andrij Melnyk said Tuesday evening on ProSieben and SAT.1.
The visit is expected to focus on how Germany can help Ukraine with heavy weapons in the fight against Russia. “My president is looking forward to this,” Melnyk said.
Scholz criticized Ukraine’s offloading of Steinmeier as “somewhat irritating”. “The Federal President would have liked to go to Ukraine,” Scholz said on Wednesday on rbb’s Inforadio. “That’s why it would have been good to receive it.” Scholz did not respond when asked if he would accept the existing invitation to Kyiv.
From 1999 to 2005 the Federal President was Head of the Chancellery of Gerhard Schröder and from 2005 to 2009 and from 2013 to 2017 Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his previous role, he had pursued a policy of involving Russia and had also supported the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. A week ago, he then admitted for the first time to errors in his Russian policy and drawn up a “bitter balance sheet”. He explained that he was wrong about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“My assessment was that Vladimir Putin would not accept the complete economic, political and moral ruin of his country for his imperial folly,” Steinmeier said. His support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project was also clearly a mistake. “We clung to bridges that Russia no longer believed in and that our partners had warned us against.”
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Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin, Andriy Melnyk, had earlier strongly criticized the federal president and, in an interview with Tagesspiegel, accused him of having “weaved a spider’s web of contacts with Russia for decades” . Melnyk said he didn’t buy Mr. Steinmeier’s acknowledgment of his mistakes in Russian politics. However, the sentences had fallen before Steinmeier’s admission of error.
surprise at cancellation
In Berlin, Ukraine’s actions aroused astonishment. “The Federal President takes a clear and unequivocal position on the side of Ukraine,” said a government spokesman.
After his re-election, Steinmeier appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Let go of the noose around Ukraine’s neck!” and stressed that no country in the world has the right to destroy Ukraine’s self-determination and sovereignty. “Germany was and is one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters internationally and this is closely linked to the many years of work of the current Federal President,” the spokesperson continued.
“The Federal President’s trip to kyiv would have been a clear sign of solidarity in foreign policy,” SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich told the “Rheinische Post”. “I remain convinced that a visit by the Federal President could have underlined the continued support of our country,” he added.
Meanwhile, former party MP Ralf Stegner wrote on Twitter: “A visit by our head of state to Ukraine would have expressed German solidarity with Ukraine, which has been overrun by Putin’s army, d especially since we also bring enormous economic, political, humanitarian and military resources. support in comparison. Steinmeier’s critique of Russian policy lacked “political substance,” Stegner continued. Mistakes such as heavy dependence on Russian energy supplies would be corrected.
Hamburg SPD MP and Vice President of the Bundestag Aydan Özoğuz also commented on the short message service. She finds it annoying that Ukraine “demands almost everything from us, but does not want to see the federal president”.
Kubicki criticizes the offloading
FDP Deputy Chairman Wolfgang Kubicki also criticized Steinmeier’s invitation. He is well acquainted with the political leadership in Ukraine. The country is fighting for its survival. “But everything has its limits. I don’t think Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was well advised to reject the offer of such a visit, not just from Germany.” For now, Kubicki has ruled out a trip from the Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Kyiv: “I can’t imagine the chancellor of an FDP-backed government visiting a country that declares the head of state of our country an undesirable person,” he said. told the German Press Agency.
Hardt speaks of “heavy burden”
Union foreign policy expert Jürgen Hardt (CDU) described Ukraine’s rejection of Steinmeier’s visit as a “severe strain” on relations between the two countries. Chancellor Olaf Scholz is to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj today, Hardt demanded in ARD’s “Morgenmagazin” on Wednesday.
Trip broke an embarrassment
For Steinmeier, the failed trip to kyiv is a shame. He had already signaled on Friday that he had travel plans. “Of course, I’m also thinking of the right time for my next visit to Kyiv.” These plans are now obsolete. And this despite the fact that major Western politicians are now shaking hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Polish, British, Austrian, Czech, Slovenian and Slovak heads of government have already traveled to kyiv to strengthen Ukraine’s rear in the fight against Russian attackers. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was present on Friday.
Three leading parliamentarians from the Traffic Light Coalition arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday from Germany – not in the capital Kyiv, but in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. There, the chairmen of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Europe Committees – Michael Roth (SPD), Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP) and Anton Hofreiter (Greens) – wanted to meet members of the Ukrainian parliament Rada . The three politicians had recently called for more rapid arms deliveries. They are the most senior German politicians who have visited Ukraine since the start of the war seven weeks ago. (cac, with agencies)