No promises in your luggage?
Scholz visits the destroyed suburb of Irpin
06/16/2022, 11:25 am
Chancellor Scholz is visiting the devastated suburb of Irpin together with French President Macron and Italian Prime Minister Draghi. The expectations of Scholz during his visit to Ukraine are high. Government circles say, however, that the chancellor will not make any specific new commitments.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Irpin in Ukraine. The SPD politician arrived in the partially destroyed Kiev suburb late in the morning. Similar to neighboring Bucha, almost 300 dead civilians were found there after the Russian retreat at the end of March, many of whom had been tortured and murdered.
Scholz was accompanied by French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. The special envoy of the Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyj for a prospect of EU membership, Oleksiy Chernyshev, led the four top politicians in Irpin past the ruins of houses that had been damaged by Russian shelling. Scholz, Macron, Draghi and Iohannis want to send a signal of solidarity in Ukraine with the country attacked by Russia.
Before the war, almost 60,000 people lived in Irpin. The Russian troops could not completely conquer the village, but approached the city limits of the capital to within a few kilometers. In the meantime, normal life has largely resumed in Irpin. However, the destruction caused by the Russian attack can still not be overlooked.
Air alert shortly after arrival
Scholz arrived in the morning together with Macron and Draghi for a long-awaited visit to the Ukrainian capital. The EU trio had traveled to Kyiv by night train. Shortly after their arrival, an air alert was sounded in Kyiv. After about half an hour, however, this was lifted again. There were also air alerts in numerous other parts of the country.
In government circles it was said that Scholz would not make any specific new commitments in Kyiv. Whether the EU trio will make a commitment to Ukraine’s candidate status is also considered uncertain. “A balance has to be found between Ukraine’s natural aspirations to join the EU at a very special time and paying attention to all the countries that already have candidate status and are stuck in the negotiating chapters, and the fact that we don’t have the EU destabilize or divide,” said French government circles.
Kyiv criticizes hesitant attitude
The Ukrainian government had previously criticized the three EU states for not providing the country with sufficient support after the Russian attack on February 24. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrei Melnyk, told the “Rheinische Post” that Kyiv primarily expects Scholz to finally give the green light for the requested 88 Leopard 1 main battle tanks and 100 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, which the Rheinmetall group can deliver immediately .
Scholz had also been asked by the traffic light coalition for weeks to travel to Kyiv, along with numerous other EU heads of government. When asked why the visit was taking place now, an Elysée official said it was thought best to take place just ahead of an EU summit next week, which will see Kiev’s bid to join the 27-strong EU Union is to be discussed. The EU Commission wants to make a recommendation on Friday.
Scholz was under considerable pressure domestically because he had also been criticized by the FDP and the Greens for taking a too hesitant course. Scholz himself had rejected criticism of the lack of arms deliveries, pointing out that Germany was providing arms in coordination with Western partners. Germany and the Netherlands want to deliver around twelve Panzerhaubitz 2000 to the Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in Germany for this purpose. The government has also promised to supply the IRIS-T air defense system.