German president says Kyiv rejected his offer to visit Ukraine

German president says Kyiv rejected his offer to visit Ukraine post thumbnail image

WARSAW (AFP) – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday (April 12) that he had offered to visit Ukraine with other EU leaders, but Kyiv had told him his trip was “not wanted”.

The snub comes as Steinmeier, a former foreign minister, is facing criticism at home and abroad for his years-long detente policy towards Moscow, which he has since admitted was a mistake.

Speaking during a visit to Warsaw, Steinmeier said he had planned to travel to Kyiv with the presidents of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this week “to send a strong signal of joint European solidarity with Ukraine”.

“I was prepared to do this, but apparently, and I must take note of this, this was not wanted in Kyiv,” he told reporters.

Germany’s topselling Bild newspaper quoted an unnamed Ukrainian diplomat as saying: “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 embarrassing rejection comes as Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under fire for not having travelled to Ukraine himself so far, unlike British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU leader Ursula von der Leyen.

Steinmeier, a Social Democrat serving his second stint as German president, was a foreign minister in two of former chancellor Angela Merkel’s governments. He has long been known for his Moscow-friendly stance.

He has been a leading advocate of the “Wandel durch Handel” (Change through Trade) concept, which argues that fostering close commercial ties can help spur democratic reforms.

Steinmeier also championed the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, which has now been halted over Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine.

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