Well, yes. Apparently, Olaf Scholz wants to travel to Kyiv this week, before the groundbreaking EU decisions. The Italian newspaper “La Stampa” reports that the Chancellor will visit Ukraine on Thursday together with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron. A spokesman for the federal government did not confirm this when asked. However, it is not disputed in government circles.
The chancellor will be measured by the following sentence: “I will not join a group of people who do something for a short in and out with a photo shoot. But when it does, it’s always about very specific things,” he said in mid-May.
The Chancellor’s trip to Ukraine with Macron and Draghi would be a signal that should not be underestimated and could also silence some criticism. But what exactly can and does Scholz want to achieve? And above all: Will he have something in his luggage?
What the three leading representatives of the EU could bring with them would be a clear signal: decisions on Ukraine’s application for membership are pending at EU level. The country hopes to be declared a candidate country at the EU summit on June 23-24. The EU Commission wants to make its recommendation by the end of next week – a visit would be a good fit, especially from three state leaders who have been viewed critically in Ukraine with their deliberative course.
Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) traveled to Kyiv again at the weekend. If the three travel – as is now being reported – to a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine before the EU summit, they could bring him powerful support for membership.
But at the same time, Scholz made it clear that there can be no shortcut for Ukraine either, the accession process would take years. And it is particularly important to him that the accession prospects for the six Western Balkan states, which have been making intensive efforts for reforms for years, be promoted.
“It’s not just about the security of this region, in which external forces are struggling for influence, not least Russia. It’s about our own security, which cannot be had without a stable European Western Balkans,” said Scholz recently in a government statement. That’s why he has just visited some of the countries, and the traffic light coalition repeatedly refers to the problems with corruption in Ukraine before the Russian war.
The purpose of a trip will be to open up a European perspective for the country or to set it in motion, at least the Elysée says meaningfully.
If there could still be a good time for such a visit for Scholz and Macron as a duo, who keeps phoning Russian President Vladimir Putin to get him to sign a ceasefire, then it would be in this pre-summit phase.
Because after the EU summit on June 23rd and 24th, Scholz’ home summit of the G7 countries is scheduled for June 26th to 28th at Schloss Elmau, to which Selenskyj is also to be connected. And since the countries of the Global South are by no means on the side of Ukraine like the West, Scholz has also invited the heads of state and government from South Africa, Senegal, India and Indonesia to Elmau. In addition, it is also about the impending famine caused by the war.
After the G7 summit, the week full of summits is followed by the NATO summit. In addition to the prospect of joining the EU, there would certainly also be the question of further deliveries of heavy weapons, since Ukraine is increasingly getting on the defensive in the Donbass.
Macron travels to Romania on Tuesday and Moldova on Wednesday. Therefore, it is also speculated in France, that a trip to the Ukraine could follow these visits, i.e. on June 16th or 17th at the earliest. That seems to be the point now.
The French President has also made a delicate proposal that also offers plenty to talk about. Because France wants to take part in a possible operation to end the blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa. The Elysée Palace has announced that the aim is to allow ships to pass through to export the grain stored in Ukraine.
But what such an operation might look like, whether Russia might see it as entering the war, like enforcing a no-fly zone, is an open question. Both Scholz and Macron are suspected in Ukraine of being guided by the tactic that Vladimir Putin should not be humiliated too much.
Macron and Scholz emphasize that no decisions will be made over the heads of the Ukrainians, that in the end they will always have to decide for themselves under what conditions they are ready for ceasefire talks – for which there are currently no signs of hope.
The CDU member of the Bundestag, Michael Brand, was part of a 16-strong delegation of members of parliament from EU countries, from the Baltic States to Portugal, in Ukraine, holding talks with the government, parliament and Selenskyj advisers.
“The chancellor is walking a difficult path, even if he will be received diplomatically friendly in Kyiv,” Brand told the Tagesspiegel. “It is a devastating summary of the German position after more than 100 days of war between Russia and Ukraine.”
The federal government is contributing to endangering peace in Europe, in that Scholz, contrary to public announcements by Ukraine, refuses to provide the necessary help, tricks and deceives: “That’s the picture that prevails in Ukraine as an analysis,” said Brand.
This would particularly affect the issue of arms deliveries. “The Chancellor must finally take his oath of office seriously, avert damage to the German people and actively ensure that the heavy weapons needed to defend Ukraine are delivered quickly.” He must give up his blocking of export licenses for such weapons and actively work to ensure that Ukraine is now granted candidate status for the EU so that he can then decide on membership in a few years’ time, Brand said.
Referring to the Rheinmetall Group’s offer to deliver up to 100 Marder infantry fighting vehicles and dozens of Leopard battle tanks, Brand said Ukraine could sign contracts with German companies immediately once Chancellor Scholz’s blockade was finally lifted. “That’s the clear signal from the talks in the foreign and defense ministries in Kyiv. Ukraine doesn’t want anything for free.”
Since the industry could supply urgently needed material for the defense, the chancellor had to decide now. “The contracts have been on the table for a long time – the green light from Berlin is still missing. There is no longer any alibi for the Scholz blockade, it only exposes us to terrible suspicion and risks escalating a brutal war,” says Brand.
Ukraine also needs EU candidate status now, as an important political signal. “If that is refused, it would have a devastating effect, and champagne corks would pop in the Kremlin given the EU’s discouragement and fear. Germany has weight in Europe, and it is therefore not enough at all not to block Ukraine’s EU candidate status . The partners are also shocked by this.”
Germany must finally take on an active, supportive role here. An important Ukrainian interlocutor used the following image: “This attack is like getting cancer: You don’t know if you’ll survive – but the candidate status gives hope. If Putin had acted earlier, he might not have attacked at all.”
After Scholz was initially able to ensure that no members of the government travel to Ukraine on their own, the line could no longer be maintained in May. So far, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach have been there. CDU leader Friedrich Merz was the first prominent federal politician to travel to Kyiv and duped Scholz.
Scholz had changed his reasoning several times as to why he didn’t think the time had come for a visit. From his point of view, the first thing that stood in the way was the cancellation of a trip by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier from the Ukrainian side, who justified this with Steinmeier’s pro-Russian policy as foreign minister.
After the irritations were cleared up, Scholz quoted his sentence that it had to be about more than a photo session. Therefore, he is now creating even more high expectations of this possible trip.