Clouds are seen over the cooling tower of the nuclear power plant Isar 2 by the river Isar amid the energy crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Eschenbach near Landshut, Germany, August 1, 2022. REUTERS/Ayhan Uyanik

The Ukrainian government is appealing to the Greens in Germany to let the last three nuclear power plants continue to operate beyond the end of the year. “This winter is a key winter,” said President Zelenskyy’s closest adviser, Mykhailo Podoliak, in an interview with the daily mirror in Kyiv. When asked whether it made sense to shut down the three plants in December given the cut in Russian gas supplies and the threat of a crumbling of solidarity with Ukraine, Podoliak said: “No”. And emphasized: “We absolutely have to use everything we have to create a new energy map in Europe as quickly as possible and not to continue to finance Russia’s war.”

A stress test is currently underway on the orders of Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) to determine whether the Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland systems could be used a little longer. Since a lot of gas was recently used to generate electricity due to problems with nuclear power plants in France, the pressure had grown to extend the runtimes again in order to have as much gas as possible for heating. In Kyiv it is feared that in the event of a severe energy crisis and a failure to exhaust all possibilities, solidarity with Ukraine in Germany could collapse.

This question is also about leadership, said Podoljak. “We are paying a high price, many people are dying. We hope that our partners will see and understand this award and do everything possible on their part,” stressed Podoljak. “It’s also a question of freedom, turning away from dependence on Russia and still having a stable energy supply in winter.”

After the numerous criticisms in recent months, Podoljak praised German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s course towards Russia, but called for a rapid increase in arms deliveries because of the difficult situation. “We are 100 percent sure that he wants to change direction in relations with Russia,” said Zelenskyi’s adviser.

“If you see his actions and hear his statements, he wants a different policy. He seems ready to take on that leadership.”

In the Chancellorship of Angela Merkel (CDU), Germany was certain that Russia under Vladimir Putin could be a partner with whom one could get along. “Germany must now go in a different direction, understand what Russia is really like.” The fact is, “we need more weapons,” said Podoliak in the interview in the presidential palace in Kyiv.

This includes long-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers to destroy Russian logistics and supply depots. Second, you need more drones. “And third, anti-aircraft systems like the Iris-T system announced by Germany to better protect our cities from air attack. We need more of them just to protect five cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Mykolaiv and Odessa.”

In addition, more armored vehicles are needed in order to be able to advance more quickly into the areas controlled by Russia after setbacks, he emphasized. So far, Scholz has primarily refused to supply German tanks to Ukraine, referring to the other NATO partners who would not supply Western-style tanks either. But the ring exchange business is also making little progress and is causing resentment in Poland in particular – the country had left many Soviet-design tanks to the Ukraine and should receive replacements from Germany, but the first Leopard tanks are not expected before April 2023.

Podoljak, who led negotiations with Russia on behalf of Ukraine, which were not continued because of the atrocities in Bucha, among other places, emphasizes that Russia would prefer to freeze the conflict; on the status quo for half a year to procure new weapons and bring new soldiers to the front. “And that the West is getting tired – then Russia would strike again with all its might,” Podoliak said.

“Ukraine’s counter-strategy is very simple: we must multiply our efforts in the shortest possible time to retake as much territory as possible, especially in the south. The more and the faster we get heavy weapons, the faster we can stop this war.” When asked what a victory for Ukraine meant for him, the presidential adviser replied that Ukraine within the limits of independence from 1991 also concludes a reconquest of Donbass and Crimea.