Ukraine wants to ‘surround itself with real friends’: Selenskyj refuses Steinmeier’s official visit request – politics

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.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

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.”

Jürgen Trittin (Alliance 90/The Greens).Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

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.”

More information about the war in Ukraine on Tagesspiegel Plus:

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.

Andriy Melnyk is Ambassador of Ukraine.Photo: IMAGO/Christian Spicker

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”.

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