It will be a difficult journey for Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), the expectations of him in Kyiv are high, and he also has to dispel reservations about his course. He is expected in Ukraine on Thursday and is planning a visit program of around six hours.
The daily mirror learned this from a reliable source. French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are also expected to be there, and Romanian President Klaus Johannis could also attend the visit, it said.
Several meetings are planned after arrival, most notably a lengthy meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. A visit outside of Kyiv, for example in the town of Butscha, which has become known for Russian atrocities, is not planned according to the current status.
However, there are also concerns in Berlin as to whether a trip by the three most important EU heads of government to the Ukrainian capital is justifiable – because the Russian side is likely to be aware of the possible travel routes, which cannot be done by plane.
Scholz has always emphasized that he only wants to travel to Kyiv if there are concrete things to discuss and announce. The Chancellor will be judged 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. An overview of the “construction sites”.
A clear signal is expected in Kyiv that the application for membership is supported. If Scholz, Macron and Draghi maneuver here, it could play into the hands of one person in particular: Vladimir Putin. This is what the Ukrainian side emphasizes, because it would endanger the previous great unity. Zelenskyj submitted an application for EU membership at the beginning of March. Several EU countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, support the application for membership. Countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and France have so far been skeptical about the project. Chancellor Scholz was also reluctant to comment for a long time
He emphasizes that there can be no shortcut for Ukraine, i.e. no membership in the fast track, he wants equality with the efforts of the Western Balkan countries to join the EU. Through expansion, Scholz wants to forge the largest possible democratic bloc against Russia, which he also sees as part of the turning point caused by the war.
With an early candidate status for the Western Balkans, Scholz wants to push back the influence of Russia, China and Turkey in the region. The Commission is likely to issue a recommendation on Ukraine’s candidate status on Friday. The 27 EU countries must then agree to start accession negotiations, which could take years or decades.
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The EU heads of state and government will also discuss the application at their summit on June 23rd and 24th. Scholz, Macron and Draghi could, however, anticipate the decision beforehand.
An adviser to President Zelenskyy says Ukraine needs 1,000 heavy artillery pieces (howitzers), 300 multiple rocket launchers, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles and 1,000 drones. The tide seems to be turning; Ukraine is suffering heavy losses in the Donbass and the army is inferior to the Russian one.
If eastern Ukraine falls, the war could spread to the rest of Ukraine again. But even the West can hardly help with the biggest problem at the moment. There is a massive lack of ammunition, Ukraine mainly uses 152 mm ammunition as in Soviet times, but most of the ammunition factories have been destroyed.
“Unless new factories are built somewhere quickly that produce ammunition en masse, I don’t know where it will come from,” says military expert Carlo Masala. Therefore, the only option left is for the West to quickly supply its own artillery with the 155 mm NATO standard.
Scholz is already considered by some in Kyiv to be the announcement chancellor. “We need Chancellor Scholz to assure us that Germany will support Ukraine. He and his government have to make a decision,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with ZDF, in which he lamented Germany’s reluctance to deliver arms.
Above all, the federal government refers to the necessary training of Ukrainian soldiers on equipment in Germany that was previously unknown to them. According to Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD), work on the self-propelled howitzers will be completed shortly and seven self-propelled howitzers 2000 from Bundeswehr stocks will be delivered in June.
It is still unclear when the announced four multiple rocket launchers will come, the approximately 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks are to be delivered from July. In addition, the federal government is paying for the delivery of an Iris-T-SLM missile defense system planned for the end of October, which is expected to cost around 178 million euros with armament.
Ukraine conducted the negotiations itself with the manufacturer Diehl, and the contract is to be signed shortly. What should not exist until now are tanks from Germany. In the first three months of the war, Berlin delivered armaments worth around 350 million euros.
Measured in terms of their economic power, the three small Baltic states – Estonia (EUR 220 million), Lithuania (EUR 115 million) and Latvia (EUR 200 million) – which are particularly threatened if Ukraine were defeated – delivered the most. In terms of absolute numbers, the USA is at the top with around 4.4 billion euros in expenditure.
Here Zelenkyj has now said something that is viewed with concern in Berlin – because of Putin’s unpredictability. US President Joe Biden also made it clear that all arms deliveries are aimed at enabling Ukraine to defend its territory – but not to attack Russian territory.
Zelenskyy’s goal is not only to restore pre-February 24 status, but also to retake the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014. If the Ukrainian army receives appropriate weapons, they can “liberate the territory,” he said in a video speech. This affects not only the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievjerodonetsk, but also “Mariupol and Crimea”.
Scholz says that Russia must not win, he seems guided by the thought that a too humiliated Russia could ultimately resort to the nuclear option. That is his overriding goal, to prevent a nuclear war involving NATO. It is also because of these considerations that he and Macron are viewed so critically, especially in Eastern Europe.
The Polish daily Rzeczpospolita writes that the negative scenario for the planned visit is that Macron, Scholz and Draghi Zelenskyj tell him not to think about recapturing Mariupol anymore, “but slowly come to terms with the fact that the peace, on we are all waiting for requires a compromise to save Putin’s face”.