Melnyk sharply countered criticism from former foreign minister Gabriel
Former Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) defended his predecessor and current Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier against the harsh criticism of the Ukrainian ambassador. Andriy Melnyk’s reaction was immediate.
BChairman Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), as former Foreign Minister (2013-2017), as well as then-Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), did “more than anyone in Europe” to support Ukraine, wrote Sigmar Gabriel (Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2018) in a guest article for the “Spiegel” and sharply attacked the Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk.
Ambassador Melnyk accused Steinmeier in an interview with the “Tagesspiegel”, among other things, of having “weaved a spider’s web of contacts with Russia for decades”. “Cobwebs are known to be used to catch and then use prey,” Gabriel wrote in the article published on Sunday. “In a nutshell, this comparison suggests that the former chancellor and foreign minister helped organize the representation of Russian interests in Germany. This is false and malicious.”
Melnyk reacted immediately: Above all, the “years of pro-Putin politics” that Gabriel and his “SPD cronies” had carried out were malicious, he wrote on Twitter. This “caused for the first time the barbaric war of annihilation” against Ukraine,” Melnyk added. “The cure is yet to come. Shame on you”
The background to the current dispute was Federal President Steinmeier’s plan to visit kyiv with his colleagues from Poland and the three Baltic states. On Tuesday, however, he said Ukrainian leaders had refused his visit.
This cancellation “is unprecedented and irritating”, judged Gabriel. It is understandable that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “wanted to express his anger and incomprehension towards German politicians and other EU countries for their past Russian and energy policies”. Here you have to Zelenskyj “often even agree”.
“What we should not accept, however, are conspiracy theories about our country’s politics and those responsible,” Gabriel added. He described Melnyk’s “cobweb” statement as a “more dangerous twist on conspiracy theories”.
At the same time, the ex-minister defended the current position of the federal government on arms deliveries. “Leadership in Europe also means recognizing the consequences of the expansion of this war,” he wrote. “And that’s why it’s right that the German federal government can only deliver heavy weapons – essentially tanks – to Ukraine in coordination with the United States of America.”
Foreign policy and diplomacy “cannot be replaced by tanks and missiles in the long run,” Gabriel stressed. Moreover, “in the search for non-violent solutions to conflicts, one must make the very uncomfortable and generally also very unpopular decision” to “put oneself in the adversary’s shoes. Not to put on one’s shoes, but to measure the space of conceivable comprehensions.
Steinmeier was Head of the Federal Chancellery under Gerhard Schröder (SPD) from 1999 to 2005. He then served as Federal Foreign Minister until 2009 and then from 2013 to 2017. Gabriel, in turn, served as Foreign Minister from 2017 to 2018 and before this first Minister of the Environment and later Minister of the Economy.