BUndescancer Olaf Scholz (SPD) has promised further support for the war-torn country on his long-awaited first trip to Ukraine. On the 113th day after the Russian attack, Scholz arrived in the capital of Kiev with French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on a solidarity visit.
European leaders met with President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss further support. The main problem was Ukraine’s wish to join the EU. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, again demanded that Scholz deliver heavy weapons quickly.
Scholz, Macron and Draghi traveled together overnight on a special train to Kiev. Shortly after their arrival, an air alarm was triggered in the Ukrainian capital, which was canceled again after a good 30 minutes.
Visit to Irpin
Upon his arrival, Scholz visited the partially destroyed Kiev suburb of Irpin. As in neighboring Bucha, almost 300 civilians, some of whom were executed, were found there after the Russian retreat at the end of March.
In Irpin, Scholz condemned the “brutality” of the Russian war of aggression. Scholz spoke of senseless violence. A city in which there were no military buildings was destroyed. “That says a lot about the brutality of the Russian offensive war, which is simply heading for destruction and conquest.”
Impressed by the destruction in Irpin, Romanian President Iohannis has once again demanded that Russian atrocities be brought before an international criminal court.
Italian Prime Minister Draghi believes that Ukraine is capable of recovery after the Russian offensive war. “It’s a place of destruction, but also of hope,” Draghi said in Irpin.
In Moscow’s first response, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev mocked the trip of four top politicians to Kiev. “European fans of frogs, liver and spaghetti like to visit Kyiv,” Medvedev wrote on Twitter. “With zero benefit.”
On his way to Kiev, Scholz promised Ukraine full support in the fight against the Russian attack. Support will continue as long as “it is necessary for Ukraine’s struggle for independence,” he said.
Macron told BFMTV that it was “a message of European unity addressed to Ukrainians and support for talking about the present and the future at the same time, because we know that the next few weeks will be difficult”.
The Chancellor has always emphasized that he will go to Kiev only if there are specific things to discuss. Zelensky calls for the delivery of additional heavy weapons and the EU’s approval of Ukraine’s candidacy for membership at its summit in Brussels next week.
Gazprom reduces supplies to Germany
Immediately before the Chancellor’s trip to Ukraine, the Russian state-owned company Gazprom reduced gas supplies via the Baltic Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany for the second time in a row on Wednesday. Gazprom again justified this step by delaying repairs.
Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), on the other hand, suspects a political decision. Gazprom announced a strangulation on Tuesday.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Melnyk, described Scholz’s visit to his homeland as an important signal. “Ukrainians hope that the chancellor will not come empty, but will bring a solid package of military aid in his suitcase,” he said. The point is that Germany should quickly supply more heavy weapons, especially cannons such as the Panzerhaubitze 2000 and the Mars II multiple rocket launcher.
The visit was also a good reason to “lift the blockade of Leopard 1’s main battle tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles in order to stifle Ukraine’s ability to defend against Putin’s large-scale offensive,” Melnyk said. “For future EU membership, Ukrainians want Chancellor Scholz to announce the granting of candidate status without artificial conditions.”
Many heads of state and government have traveled to Ukraine since mid-March. However, this visit is undoubtedly the most important: Scholz, Macron and Draghi are the three most populous and economically strongest countries in the EU. All three states belong to the G7 group, which brings together democratic economic powers. This group is currently chaired by Germany and the EU is chaired by France.
Selensky invited Scholz to Kiev weeks ago. At first, however, resentment prevailed over the short-term cancellation of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s journey from the Ukrainian side. After removing the irritation, Scholz pointed out that such a trip is not about symbols, but about content: “I do not join a group of people who do something for a short time with photography. But if so, it’s always about very specific things. “
He was preceded by a number of his ministers in Ukraine: Annalena Baerbock (external, Greens), Svenja Schulze (Development, SPD) and most recently Karl Lauterbach (Health, SPD) and Cem Özdemir (Agriculture, Greens). Parliament Speaker Bärbel Bas (SPD) and opposition leader Friedrich Merz (CDU) also visited Kyiv.