During his visit to Ukraine and the meeting with his colleague Volodymyr Zelensky, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants to focus primarily on the country's reconstruction and strengthen ties between the two countries. The focus of the talks with President Selenskyj is the elimination of war damage, according to the Federal President's Office after Steinmeier's arrival in Kyiv on Tuesday morning. Germany wants to play a leading role in this.
In Berlin, meanwhile, top politicians, heads of international financial institutions and economists are discussing a kind of Marshall plan for Ukraine this Tuesday. The government in Kyiv has estimated the financial need to cover the damage caused by the Russian attack at 750 billion US dollars. The World Bank and experts from the EU Commission are assuming around 350 billion euros.
Although hostilities continue and no end to the war is in sight, the planned and comprehensive repair of the damage is being tackled immediately with international support. According to the Office of the Federal President, the reconstruction of Ukraine is beginning now.
According to reports, Steinmeier will not make any diplomatic push for an initiative for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia during his talks with Zelenskyj in Kyiv in the late afternoon. In view of the massive attacks by Russia and the increased bombing of civilian targets in Ukraine, Berlin currently sees no starting points for this.
In his earlier time as foreign minister, Steinmeier had sought to settle the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. As foreign minister of the SPD in the grand coalition at the time, he drew up the so-called Steinmeier formula in 2015. This provided for a special status for the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. She was welcomed in Moscow and criticized in Kyiv.
The formula was then the basis of a document in October 2019, the aim of which was to resume negotiations to resolve the Ukraine-Russia conflict within the framework of the Normandy format between Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany. Foreign Minister at the time was Heiko Maas (SPD).
The German head of state usually does not take political initiatives that fall within the remit of the federal government. The issue of increased deliveries of heavy weapons by Germany, which Ukraine has repeatedly demanded, is also not on the Federal President's agenda in Kyiv. In Berlin it is said that Germany has not only recently made numerous weapons available, but is also one of the biggest supporters of Ukraine when it comes to air defense systems.
After his arrival in Kyiv, the Federal President declared that he wanted to "send a sign of solidarity to the Ukrainians right now, in the phase of the vile Russian air raids throughout the country". Steinmeier assured the Ukrainians that they could count on Germany. “We will continue to support Ukraine: militarily, politically, financially and humanitarianly. And also very specifically on site - through many interpersonal and communal connections, which we want to show as examples today in Koryukivka," added the Federal President.
Before his talks in Kyiv, Steinmeier visited the small northern Ukrainian town of Koryukivka near the Belarusian border, which was occupied by Russian troops at the beginning of the war of aggression. The city was liberated, but is now struggling with destroyed infrastructure and supply shortages before winter.
The Federal President will hand over winter aid for the municipal energy infrastructure there, get an impression of the destruction and seek talks with the affected civilian population, the President's Office said in advance. In addition, the President wanted to hand over a resolution to the city of Waldkirch im Breisgau with the aim of entering into a twinning with Koryukivka.
Steinmeier visited the Ukrainian city for the first time in October last year. When the mayor was asked at the time what he wanted most for Koryukivka, he replied: a partnership with a German city.
The connection between Waldkirch and Koryukivka is part of a network of 107 town twinnings between Germany and the Ukraine, whose patronage Steinmeier has taken on. The intention is to strengthen the ties between the two countries and to improve support for the Ukrainian municipalities.
It is Steinmeier's first visit to Ukraine since the beginning of the war. When the Federal President wanted to travel to Ukraine, which was being attacked by Russian troops, in April 2022, government circles in Kyiv told him that his visit was not welcome. It is believed that one of the reasons for Steinmeier's cancellation was close ties with Russia and that the "Steinmeier formula" is said to have played an important role in this. In Germany there was strong criticism of the reaction of the government in Kyiv, which was perceived as a rejection of the Federal President.
His trip was originally planned for last Thursday, but was postponed at short notice. The reason was not renewed disagreement between the two countries, but the assessment of the security situation by the Federal Criminal Police Office and other German authorities. Apparently, it was now considered more relaxed. Steinmeier traveled to Kyiv by train and a small delegation; on Tuesday evening, both presidents want to make a joint statement after the conclusion of their talks.
At the reconstruction conference, Olaf Scholz discusses what Germany can do to help Ukraine. The Federal Chancellor commented on the details in a speech, now here in full.
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