Ukraine snubs German President over close ties to Russia – Not welcome in Kyiv

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had been due to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday alongside the Presidents of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

However a Ukrainian diplomat reportedly said Mr Steinmeier was “not welcome in Kyiv” due to his previous close relationship to Russia.

On a visit to Warsaw, Mr Steinmeier stated his plan was to “undertake a trip to Kyiv to send a strong signal of common European solidarity with Ukraine”.

He continued: “I was ready to do this, but apparently – and I have to take note of this – this was not wanted in Kyiv.”

German tabloid newspaper Bild quoted a Ukrainian diplomat as saying: “All of us here know Steinmeier’s close ties to Russia.

“[The German President] is not welcome in Kyiv at the moment. We will see whether that changes.”

Relations between Ukraine and Germany have been tense since the Russian invasion in February, as the German government has been criticised for its seemingly weak response to the crisis.

President Steinmeier, who previously served as Foreign Minister, has admitted his previous soft stance on Putin had been a “mistake”, reported Politico.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also faced pressure from President Zelensky to take a stronger position in support of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian President accused Germany in a speech last month of prioritising their economic needs over their moral obligation to act against Putin.

Both Steinmeier and Scholz were supporters of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which had it been opened would have provided Germany with a steady supply of Russian gas.

The project was cancelled in February after the invasion and Germany has said it is “willing” to begin phasing out Russian energy, according to Reuters.

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While Germany hopes to have stopped importing Russian coal by autumn and Russian oil by the end of the year, freedom from Russian gas is expected to take longer.

It is likely that it will take until mid-2024 for the Germans to be completely cut off from Russian gas.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said: “Gas cannot be substituted in the short term.

“We would inflict more damage on ourselves than on them.”

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