The Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denys Chmygal, called Sunday for Germany to strengthen its military support to Ukraine, while recognizing the efforts already made, during a trip to Berlin that turns the page of recent tensions between the two countries.
Germany’s long-standing lukewarm attitude towards Moscow, following the outbreak of war six months ago, and its initial lack of military support for Kiev have deeply angered the government of Volodymyr Zelensky.
But things have improved since then. Chmygal’s visit to Berlin on Sunday, a first for a Ukrainian official of that level since the Russian invasion began, symbolizes this détente.
The prime minister “thanked Germany for its military, financial, humanitarian and political support,” while stressing the need to provide Kiev with more heavy military equipment, according to a statement from his office.
“The MARS II rocket launchers and the [obusiers] Panzerhaubitze 2000, provided by Germany, worked well on the battlefield, and we hope to increase the supply of heavy weapons,” Chmygal was quoted as saying in the statement.
Less than a week ago, Chancellor Olaf Scholz wanted Germany to take “special responsibility” for helping Ukraine strengthen its artillery and air defense systems.
“We hope that Germany will become one of the leaders in the process of developing air defense [ukrainienne] “, echoed Sunday his Ukrainian counterpart.
Germany will host next Thursday a meeting, at the initiative of Washington, of defense ministers of countries allied with Ukraine. This meeting of some forty countries, on the American air base of Ramstein (west), is intended to organize the support of Ukrainian military capabilities against Russia.
In Russia, former President Dmitry Medvedev accused Germany on Sunday of waging a “hybrid war” against Russia, justifying the halt in gas deliveries to Berlin by its “unfriendly” behavior in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine.
“Firstly, Germany is an unfriendly country, secondly it has imposed sanctions against the entire Russian economy […] and it delivers lethal weapons to Ukraine,” Medvedev said in a message posted on Telegram.
Denys Chmygal also solved on Sunday another recent feud between Kiev and Berlin, meeting with the head of state, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Mr. Steinmeier, twice foreign minister of Angela Merkel, has long supported a policy of détente with Russia, before making his mea culpa by acknowledging a mistake. Declared persona non grata by Volodymyr Zelensky’s executive for this reason, he had to cancel a visit to Kiev in mid-April.
Germany “will continue to stand reliably by Ukraine,” Steinmeier assured the Ukrainian leader, according to the German president’s spokeswoman.
A conference of experts on the reconstruction of the country, in which the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will participate, will be held on October 25 in Berlin.
Before his visit, Denys Chmygal had noted “the immense progress” made by Germany in its military aid to Ukraine, which had gone from “protective equipment” to “artillery”.
Germany had recently promised to deliver Iris-T air defense systems to Ukraine. This is to be done “in the autumn”, according to the Ukrainian Prime Minister.
Another symbol of this new era in bilateral relations is the upcoming arrival of a new Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin. His predecessor, Andrij Melnyk, for months had been vehemently attacking Germany’s perceived timid attitude towards Russia.
After his visit to Berlin, Mr. Chmygal is expected in Brussels on Monday to chair a meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council with the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, and to participate in a conference on Russian crimes in Ukraine with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola.
In Ukraine, local authorities announced on Sunday that Russian forces had continued to bombard the region of Mykolaïv (south) since the previous day, causing the death of a child following the collapse of his house, and a woman, and injuring 6. A balance sheet impossible to confirm from independent sources.
On the agricultural export front, halted by the war and recently resumed after an agreement including the belligerents to avoid shortages in the rest of the world, 13 ships loaded with a total of 282,500 tons of foodstuffs left Ukrainian ports on Sunday for eight countries, the Kiev government announced.