Before a possible visit by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj is calling for unequivocal support from Germany. "We need Chancellor Scholz to ensure that Germany supports Ukraine. He and his government have to make a decision," Zelenskyj told ZDF. Germany should not attempt a balancing act between Ukraine and relations with Russia. Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi could visit Ukraine in the middle of the week. Fierce fighting continued in eastern Ukraine.
Selenskyj raises the bar for Scholz
"Germany came a little later than some of our neighboring countries in terms of arms deliveries," criticized Zelenskyj on ZDF. But not only the Baltic states and other eastern EU countries, but also the USA and Great Britain have become active earlier. Initially, Germany and France only supported Ukraine politically and rhetorically.
Recently, the Ukrainian side has frequently criticized the fact that Germany is too hesitant to deliver weapons that have already been promised. The Ukrainian government is hoping for concrete promises for an immediate delivery of German tanks. Zelenskyy said he would like the chancellor to personally support Ukraine's EU membership. He expects the European Union to grant his country the status of a candidate country in June.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced at the weekend in Kyiv that she would complete the analysis of Ukraine's EU membership application at the end of next week. In any case, your authority's recommendation is likely to be linked to calls for further reforms in Ukraine.
Scholz rejected the accusation that he was too hesitant to deliver weapons that had already been promised. The training of Ukrainian soldiers on the sometimes very modern and complicated weapon systems is ongoing. "It's about really heavy equipment. You have to be able to use it, you have to be trained for it, that's currently happening in the Federal Republic of Germany," said Scholz. "We will deliver all the weapons that we have on the way."
When will the trio travel to Kyiv?
Scholz said nothing about the possible visit to Kyiv. Relations between Berlin and Kyiv had cooled off considerably at the beginning of the war. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was not welcome in Ukraine because Kyiv accused him of his pro-Moscow policies. Added to this was the controversy over the extent and speed of Germany's support for the attacked country.
The Italian newspaper “La Stampa” named this Thursday as a possible date for the three-way visit by Scholz, Macron and Draghi. Ukrainian media, citing French diplomats in Kyiv, reported that Macron was expected on Wednesday.
Zelenskyy promises reconquest of Crimea
Shortly before the expected meeting, Zelenskyi made it clear again that Ukraine's war goal was to take back the Crimean Peninsula from Russia. "Of course we will also liberate our Crimea," said the Ukrainian president. "The Ukrainian flag will again fly over Yalta and Sudak, over Dzhankoy and Yevpatoria." Russia militarily occupied the Black Sea peninsula in 2014 when Ukraine was weakened after a change of power and was unable to resist. Then an internationally unrecognized referendum was held and Crimea was annexed to Russia.
Zelenskyj called on the citizens of Ukraine to keep in touch with the Russian-occupied parts of the country, Donetsk and the Kharkiv region. These areas would also be liberated again. "Tell them that the Ukrainian army will definitely come," said Zelenskyy. In the east, in the Donbass, the army is under pressure and the losses are terrible. The armed forces urgently need modern artillery from their foreign partners in order to be able to assert themselves.
Separatists in Donetsk report heavy shelling
The Russian-led separatists in Donetsk reported what is believed to be the heaviest Ukrainian shelling of the city since the beginning of the war. Four people were killed and at least 23 people were injured, according to local media reports. A maternity clinic in the former metropolis caught fire, but nobody was injured there. The reports are not independently verifiable. To protect the city and the "Donetsk People's Republic", additional troops from "allied forces", i.e. the Russian army, are necessary, said separatist leader Denis Puschilin, according to the DAN agency.
That's going to be important today