German President makes unannounced visit to Kiev
Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lands in Kiev in a "surprise" visit to engage in talks with Ukraine's President over providing support to Ukraine.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier made an unannounced visit to Kiev on Tuesday, marking his first trip to the country since the start of the conflict in February.
The purpose of the visit is to meet with Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, for what appears to be discussions on providing assistance to Ukraine.
"I am looking forward to my meeting with (Ukrainian) President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv," he said, according to a confirmation sent by his spokeswoman.
"My message to Ukrainians: you can count on Germany," Steinmeier said.
Prior to the start of the conflict, Steinmeier was long criticized over his years-long "detente" policy with Moscow.
He previously offered to visit Kiev in April but that offer was snubbed due to his perceived closeness with Russia, triggering tensions between the two countries.
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Germany's Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said Kiev's rebuke of Steinmeier, who was then Foreign Minister, was impeding his own visit to Ukraine.
He nonetheless paid a visit in the month of June along with Italy's Mario Draghi and France's Emmanuel Macron.
Being Scholz's main rival, Steinmeier served as Foreign Minister in two of former Chancellor Angela Merkel's governments.
He was also a prompt upholder of the "Wandel durch Handel" (Change through Trade) concept, which posits that cultivating commercial ties can stimulate democratic reforms.
He defended the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany which is currently paused amid the conflict.
In an interview for the German newspaper Rheinische Post, Steinmeier defended the pipeline by saying that fuel sales were "one of the last bridges between Russia and Europe."
"I believe that burning bridges is not a sign of strength," Steinmeier said.
"For us Germans, there is another dimension," the President said, noting that June will mark 80 years since the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. He said 20 million Soviet citizens were killed in World War II.
"There have been phases of fruitful partnership, but even more times of terrible bloodshed," Steinmeier said.
"This does not justify any wrongdoing in Russian politics today, but we must not lose sight of the bigger picture," he added. "Yes, we live in the presence of a difficult relationship, but there is a past before and a future after."
Since then, he has changed his detente approach toward Moscow, now adopting the notion that there could be "no return to normal with Putin's Russia."
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His visit comes against a backdrop of protests in Germany over the energy crisis and the government's poor handling of the economic situation.
On October 21, the co-chair of the opposition right-wing party, Alternative for Germany party (AfD), Tino Chrupalla announced that Germany would no longer be Europe's gas hub, right after the MidCat pipeline project was ditched by France, Spain, and Portugal over the Green Energy Corridor.
On the same day, Scholz announced that he will lead a government delegation to China next month, the first EU leader to make the trip since November 2019, likely in the hopes of purchasing Russian fuel from Chinese markets.
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