Berlin: Prime Minister Denis Shmigal will become the first senior Ukrainian official to visit Germany on Sunday in a sign that tensions have eased after a rocky patch between Kyiv and Berlin.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly pledged Germany’s strong support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.
However, in the weeks immediately after Russian troops marched into Ukraine, Kyiv accused Germany of giving too little and too late.
Scholz’s visit to Kyiv in June and the arrival of weapons from Germany later changed the tone.
“Germany has made great strides in supporting Ukraine with arms,” Schmigal told German media ahead of his trip, in a transcript published by his press agency.
But the prime minister said Kyiv needs more from Berlin, including “modern battle tanks” like the Leopard 2.
Scholz welcomes Shmigal with military honors in the afternoon.
But Shmygal is scheduled to start the day Sunday morning with a meeting with controversial German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose travel offer to Kyiv was rejected in April.
Steinmeier, the former foreign minister of Scholz’s Social Democrats, was shunned for years of detente against Moscow, but admits it was a mistake after the outbreak of the civil war.
– “Special Responsibilities” –
Germany’s SPD has historically championed close ties with Russia. It grew out of the “Eastern Politics” policy of reconciliation and dialogue with the Soviet Union at the time, devised by former SPD Prime Minister Willy Brandt in the 1970s.
Due to this tradition, Germany initially refused to deliver weapons to Kyiv, previously deciding to send only 5,000 helmets, causing outrage and ridicule.
But Scholz’s coalition, which includes the Greens and the liberal FDP, has since turned sharply.
Among the weapons that have arrived in Kyiv are howitzers, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft missiles.
Heavier weapons such as the IRIS-T anti-aircraft system, pickup-mounted rocket launchers and anti-drone equipment are slated for an additional military aid package worth more than €500 million.
Also, Ukrainian soldiers are currently being trained in Germany to use anti-aircraft Leopard tanks.
In a speech about his vision for Europe on Monday, Scholz said Germany had a “special responsibility” to help Ukraine build its artillery and air defense systems.
He added that Germany will maintain its support for Ukraine “as long as it is necessary”.
At the humanitarian level, Germany has hosted about one million Ukrainian refugees and about 155,000 Ukrainian children are currently enrolled in German schools.
Ahead of Schmigal’s visit, Scholz’s coalition partner, the Green Party, traditionally known as a pacifist, said Germany wanted to “boost” arms deliveries to Ukraine.
“Military means never bring solutions, but sometimes create windows of opportunity where conflicts can be resolved politically within a rules-based world order,” party leaders said to the next party congress. said in a motion filed against