(Berlin) A chancellor who is reluctant to deliver heavy weapons, a head of state declared persona non grata in Kyiv: Germany is again up against the wall, summoned to show firmer support for Ukraine in the face of the Russia.
The confession is a bit humiliating for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier: he is not welcome in the Ukrainian capital, where he had planned to go.
The trip was to take place with the presidents of Poland and the Baltic States: “I was ready to do it but apparently, and I must take note of it, it was not desired in Kyiv”, indicated Mr. Steinmeier on Tuesday during of a trip to Warsaw.
The daily Picture revealed the incident, quoting a Ukrainian diplomat with harsh remarks towards the president, from the Social Democratic (SPD) camp: “We all know Steinmeier’s close relations with Russia here… He is not welcome to Kyiv at the moment. We’ll see if that changes. »
The recent mea culpa of Mr. Steinmeier, who was twice Minister of Foreign Affairs to Angela Merkel, was obviously not enough.
He admitted in early April that he had made a “mistake” by supporting a policy of detente with Russia.
“We clung to bridges which Russia no longer believed in and against which our partners had warned us,” admitted the head of state.
German MPs in Ukraine
Mr Steinmeier wanted to make the trip at a time when Chancellor Olaf Scholz is in a rush to give Ukraine new tokens of support.
“It would be important for the head of government to come to Kyiv,” said Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin Andrij Melnyk on Tuesday evening on German channels Sat.1 and ProSieben.
Provided that he does not come empty-handed, like Boris Johnson who pledged to supply armored vehicles and missiles to Ukraine.
But Olaf Scholz has been evasive for days on the delivery of heavy weapons, arousing growing annoyance even within the majority. Berlin had previously been reluctant to supply defensive weapons, before an about-face when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Germany, highly dependent on Russian gas, is also one of the main obstacles to an EU embargo on hydrocarbons demanded by Kyiv.
acerbic, Picture joked about a trip by the Chancellor to Lübeck in northern Germany, for a regional election rally, when “Boris Johnson walked side by side with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi through Kyiv”.
“The Chancellor should start using his skills to set guidelines and lead,” Liberal Party MP Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann said on Monday.
This president of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag left for Ukraine on Tuesday with the presidents of the Foreign Affairs Committees Michael Roth (SPD) and European Affairs Anton Hofreiter (Greens).
All three come from the ruling coalition parties and all three are calling for deliveries of heavy weapons, tanks in particular. They must meet, in the west of the country at war, Ukrainian deputies.
Baerbock “gives the La”
It is the Greens, traditionally very pacifist, who insist the most. After the head of diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock, her ecologist colleague Robert Habeck, Minister of the Economy, urged the Chancellor to act.
“Anything that can help the Ukrainian army now must be sent quickly,” he urged on Tuesday.
Mme Baerbock “shows the chancellor how to do it”, estimates the n-tv news channel in a comment, judging that she has become “the one who sets the tone in an unsure government”.
Technical and logistical difficulties remain to be resolved. Germany has exhausted the possibilities of drawing on the reserves of its army, in a state of notorious under-equipment, explained this weekend the Minister of Defense, Christine Lambrecht.
Several arms groups, such as Rheinmetall, have offered to make new or used tanks available, sometimes with significant delays.
Mme Strack-Zimmermann also warned against sending vehicles that require training before use, such as the Marder-type tanks requested by Ukraine.
The “soldiers have to get them under control, otherwise they will really become cannon fodder,” she warned.