Trip to Kyiv: message of solidarity or campaign tactics?

NEven before the arrival of the European trio in Kyiv, the Left Party presented its demands for the outcome of the trip in Berlin. Its member of parliament, Sevim Dagdelen, demanded that Chancellor Olaf Scholz not give in to demands for further arms deliveries and that he must “unmistakably rule out German participation in the war by supplying tanks”. Supplying Ukraine with Marder or Leopard 1 tanks “would be crazy,” said Dagdelen. “Finally diplomatic initiatives to end the war” are necessary.

Matthias Rub

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

The chairwoman of the Defense Committee of the Bundestag Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, on the other hand, said she was deeply convinced “that this war can only be resolved militarily”. She told the newspapers of the Funke media group that after the upsets of the past few weeks, Scholz’s, Macron’s and Draghi’s trip gave “the great opportunity to talk tacheles together”. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskkyj can say which weapons he wants and needs, Scholz can openly reply “what works and what doesn’t work”.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk had previously said in Berlin that the visit by Scholz and the other European heads of state and government to Kyiv was a good reason to “lift the blockade for Leopard 1 tanks and Marder armored personnel carriers”. The point is that Germany should quickly deliver more heavy weapons to Ukraine.

criticism of Macron

Meanwhile, in France, Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Kyiv has fueled the domestic political debate shortly before the decisive round of parliamentary elections on Sunday. “Emmanuel Macron does nothing without ulterior motives for the election,” Marine Le Pen told the President. “He is using his role as war chief to influence the elections,” she said indignantly on radio station France Inter.

Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party is on the rise, although party leader Le Pen has not severed her ties with Russia. “It must be said clearly that Ukraine does not meet the conditions for EU membership. I am against any enlargement of the EU,” said Le Pen. She was responding to statements by Macron’s Europe Minister Clément Beaune. “We must start EU negotiations and give Ukraine candidate status,” Beaune told France Info radio on Thursday.

President Macron had previously assured President Maja Sandu during a visit to Chişinău that there could be no “intermediate status”. “I want us to give a clear and positive signal,” Macron said on the EU candidate status of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia at a joint press conference with Sandu. Shortly before his departure on the tarmac at Paris Orly Airport, Macron had mixed up foreign and domestic policy. “We need a solid majority to ensure order, both outside and inside our borders,” Macron said in front of the presidential plane. “Nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to global disorder,” he warned.

“Signal of unity and cohesion”

The left alliance’s spokesman, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, compared Macron’s performance to that of Donald Trump. “His boat is leaking, now he’s getting on the plane,” Mélenchon scoffed. Macron had waited so long to visit Kyiv. But just before the decisive election, he must show up with the German and Italian heads of government in the Ukrainian capital. The former chairman of the right-wing party, Jean-Francois Copé, also sharply criticized the timing of the trip.

In Rome, it was said from the Palazzo Chigi, the office of the Italian Prime Minister, that Mario Draghi, together with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Emmanuel Macron, delivered “a strong message of solidarity” with the political leadership and the people of Ukraine in Kyiv. At the same time, the visit sent out a signal of “the unity and cohesion of Europeans” – with a view to the condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine, the round of sanctions against Russia and the aid for Kyiv.

In the past few weeks, Draghi has repeatedly reiterated that Putin’s attempt to divide the Europeans has failed. Since the beginning of the war, Rome has worked resolutely in two directions at the European level: on the one hand, in imposing various packages of sanctions against Russia, on the other hand, in providing joint and coordinated support to Ukraine with political, financial, military and humanitarian means. Italy is doing everything possible to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible as a prerequisite for the resumption of peace negotiations. However, Rome insists that only Ukraine and no other country should determine what conditions for peace should be met.

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