Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Signalling a thaw in relations between Berlin and Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to visit Ukraine on 9 May, the date commemorated in Russia as World War II Victory Day.
Relations between Ukraine and Germany became strained as Kyiv stopped a planned visit by Steinmeier to the city, based on his history of pursuing rapprochement with Russia. A former associate of ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder – now a Gazprom executive – Steinmeier long called for maintaining economic ties with Russia, even after the annexation of Crimea.
Scholz subsequently refused to visit until Steinmeier, who had admitted the rapprochement policy was a mistake after the invasion of Ukraine, would be welcomed into the country. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany added fuel to the fire by calling the Chancellor an “offended liver sausage” for this decision.
Speaking to Britain’s Chatham House think tank, Zelenskyy called on Scholz on Friday to take a “powerful step” and visit Kyiv on 9 May, after inviting the Chancellor, Steinmeier, and the entire German cabinet to visit Ukraine the day before.
“He’s invited, the invitation is open, it has been for some time now,” said Zelenskyy. “He’s invited to come to Ukraine, he can make this very powerful political step to come here on the 9th of May, to Kyiv. I am not explaining the significance, I think you’re cultured enough to understand why.”
Zelenskyy also commented on the siege of Mariupol, where the massive Azovstal industrial facility is the last vestige of Ukrainian resistance in the city. The Ukrainian president stressed that the situation in the city amounted to “torture”, and that no talks could happen with Russia if the civilians bunkered up in the facility, or the troops defending it, were killed when they could have been released.