Berlin, Apr 13 (EFE).- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s refusal to receive German president Frank Walter Steinmeier underlined the strains between the two countries at a time when Kyiv is clamoring for more weapons and for Europe to go further with its sanctions on Russian energy.
“I was told my presence was not wanted in the country,” Germany’s president, a largely symbolic office, told local media following reports that a proposed meeting with Zelenskyy had been turned down.
The Ukrainian president did welcome, however, his counterparts from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The visit was spear-headed by Poland after prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki in mid-March became one of the first European leaders — along with the Czech and Slovenian prime ministers — to visit Kyiv since the start of Russia’s invasion.
Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, recently said that chancellor Olaf Scholz, who as head of government has decision-making power when it comes to sanctioning Russian fossil fuels, was the one who ought to be in Kyiv.
Vice-government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner declined to comment on whether Scholz was prepared to make such a trip, although underlined that the chancellor and Zelenskyy had spoken often by telephone.
Kyiv’s dismissal of Steinmeier’s visit came days after he said his previous defense of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which nurtured Germany’s dependence on Russian fuel, was a “mistake.”
Steinmeier was chancellery minister under Social Democratic Party (SPD) Gerhard Schröder (1998-2005), who a few months before leaving office signed the agreement for the construction of the first gas pipeline with his ally and friend, president Vladimir Putin.
Schröder’s reluctance to give up his posts with Russia’s Gazprom and Rosneft have become a thorn in the side of the government coalition’s leading party.
Under the conservative Angela Merkel (2005-2021), Steinmeier served as foreign minister for two terms and agreed with Merkel’s bid to press on with Nord Stream 2 despite Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Ukraine’s repeated warnings. EFE