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5 May, 2022 16:08

Ukrainian and German presidents bury hatchet – media

Der Spiegel publication says Zelensky and Steinmeier talked on the phone to ease tensions after snub
Ukrainian and German presidents bury hatchet – media

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has held talks by phone with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Der Spiegel media claimed on Thursday. The two leaders reportedly agreed to move on and forget past grudges relating to Kiev’s decision last month to call off Steinmeier’s visit to Ukraine at short notice over alleged links to the Kremlin.

According to the publication, Zelensky and Steinmeier spoke by phone for about 45 minutes on Thursday, with the German president reportedly pledging Berlin’s full support to Kiev. The outlet described the alleged conversation as an attempt to ease tensions between the two countries, which resulted from Ukraine’s prior decision to cancel Steinmeier’s planned visit to Kiev in mid-April.

Der Spiegel, citing an unnamed source, also reported that the latest phone talks indicated that the “irritations of the past were removed.”

Zelensky reportedly invited both Steinmeier and the entire German leadership to visit Ukraine, though it was not clear whether the German president was planning such a trip in the near future, the outlet noted. However, according to Der Spiegel, if the two leaders indeed buried their grudges, that could pave the way for Chancellor Olaf Scholz to visit Ukraine.

This scenario, the publication claims, is also being viewed as desirable by Germany’s Social Democratic party, which both Steinmeier and Scholz are members of. The party reportedly sees such a visit as an “important sign of solidarity.”  

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced on Wednesday her plans to visit the Ukrainian capital soon. She refused to disclose any concrete date, however.

According to Der Spiegel, the diplomat wants to commemorate WWII victims, together with her Ukrainian counterpart, and discuss the current situation.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnik, branded the country’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, an “offended liverwurst” over his refusal to pay a visit to Kiev after Ukrainian authorities snubbed German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in mid-April.

The comment came in response to Chancellor Scholz’s interview to Germany’s ZDF TV channel, in which he made it clear that Ukraine’s refusal to receive Steinmeier last month stood in the way of Scholz’s own potential visit to Kiev. Scholz described the snub as a “remarkable instance.”

Steinmeier was supposed to pay a visit to Kiev along with the leaders of Poland and the Baltic states on April 13. However, the Ukrainian authorities signaled to him the day prior that he was “not wanted” in Kiev because he had allegedly fostered good relations with Moscow.

Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.