Ukraine has rejected a visit to Kyiv by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a message to Berlin, which Ukrainian officials have criticized for its response to the Russian invasion.
In Warsaw, Steinmeier said he planned to visit Kyiv this week with the presidents of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to send a message of European “solidarity” to Ukraine but was told he his not welcome. “I was prepared to do this, but apparently, and I must take note of this, this was not wanted in Kyiv,” he said.
The German newspaper Bild quoted an unnamed Ukrainian diplomat who accused Steinmeier of being close to Moscow. “We all know of Steinmeier’s close relations with Russia here … He is not welcome in Kyiv at the moment. We will see whether that changes,” the diplomat said.
Steinmeier has been Germany’s president since 2017 and was a supporter of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that would have significantly increased trade between Germany and Russia. In the wake of Russia’s invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended the project. Steinmeier recently said his view on the pipeline was a “mistake.”
While many in Germany were in favor of Nord Stream 2, support for the pipeline is enough for Ukraine to label someone pro-Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants the EU to ban Russian oil and gas, but Europe is still very reliant on Russian energy.
Germany started sending weapons to Ukraine after Russia invaded, but Kyiv is accusing Berlin of not sending enough. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said over the weekend that Germany had reached a “limit” on the arms it can send Ukraine from its military stockpiles.