BERLIN — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Kyiv.
An official from the German president’s office confirmed to POLITICO that Zelenskyy invited Scholz, Steinmeier and the entire German government, signaling a thaw in relations after weeks of diplomatic tension.
A telephone conversation held Thursday between Zelenskyy and Steinmeier was the first since mid-April, when Kyiv said the German president would not be welcome to visit, accusing him of taking a previously soft stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched a deadly invasion of Ukraine in February.
Following the diplomatic snub, Steinmeier, who was in Warsaw at the time with plans to continue his journey to Ukraine, turned around and voiced his disappointment in Kyiv’s decision.
But Kyiv and Berlin now appear to have cleared the air. Both presidents called Thursday’s phone call “very important and very good,” according to a press release by Steinmeier’s office.
Zelenskyy also spoke of “a good, constructive, important conversation” and said he thanked Steinmeier “for strong support for Ukraine,” adding, “Expect it to be intensified.”
“German leadership is important to counter Russian aggression,” the Ukrainian president said.
“Germany remains a powerful ally of Ukraine,” added Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskyy’s staff. “I can only say that the hope of the Russians on the split of Europe’s unity over its support to Ukraine is a vain hope.”
The tension between Kyiv and Berlin had led to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s refusal to travel to Kyiv himself, arguing earlier this week that the way Ukraine had treated Steinmeier stood “in the way” of his own visit.
Ukraine’s ambassador in Berlin, Andrij Melnyk, who for weeks criticized the German government over what he said was insufficient support for his country, accused Scholz of sulking.
Scholz doubled down during a press conference on Wednesday, saying Kyiv’s behavior was not only a problem for himself but for “the whole German people,” drawing criticism for not prioritizing good relations with Ukraine while the country is under sustained assault from Russia.
Sergei Kuznetsov contributed reporting.