Ukrainian foreign minister calls for fighter jets, forgives SPD
Ukraine conflict First Baerbock in Kiev, now her Ukrainian counterpart in Berlin: things are back on track in German-Ukrainian relations. Ukraine is not yet completely satisfied with German support.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba makes a statement after his meeting with the Federal Minister of Economy. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, during his visit to Germany, called for the delivery of Western fighter jets. Missile defense systems called for to defend his country against Russia.
He again criticized Germany's reluctance to supply weapons, but also stressed that German-Ukrainian relations were back on a good track after the tensions and irritations of recent weeks. He strongly advocated an EU accession perspective for his country. "The European Union needs Ukraine just as much as Ukraine needs the European Union. Kuleba visits Germany for four days. Among other things, takes part in the G7 foreign ministers meeting on the Baltic Sea. In Berlin, he met the leaders of parties and parliamentary groups in the Bundestag, as well as members of the government, including Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens). The visit comes just days after Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's (Greens) visit to Kiev, which had already helped improve relations.
In the weeks before, Ukraine had accused Germany of hesitancy regarding arms deliveries and Russia sanctions. A planned visit by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was cancelled at short notice by the Ukrainian side.
In the meantime, however, Germany is on the right track, Kuleba stressed. "We see a positive dynamic. I would like to thank the governing coalition and the federal government for moving forward." Now, however, the right decisions must be made, said the Ukrainian foreign minister, referring to arms deliveries.
In a "World"-In an interview, he criticized the fact that the Gepard anti-aircraft tanks promised by Germany were not even requested by Ukraine. "The decisive factor for the German government seems to have been rather to give us something it does not need itself", he said. Kuleba also criticized the delivery of seven German howitzers 2000 – heavy, modern artillery pieces – as insufficient. "At the same time as this news came, I received a message from a very small EU country that also wanted to give us seven pieces of the same system. The dimensions are not right, this does not look good. Kuleba called for fighter jets. Western-style missile defense systems. "Let's forget the Soviet systems, that's over", he said. However, he said that the most important issue for his country was the prospect of EU accession. Public opinion is in favor on both sides, he said. "We have a moment when we make history with our own hands."
The EU Commission plans to make a recommendation in June on whether Ukraine should become a candidate for EU membership. After that, the member states will decide – perhaps already at the EU summit at the end of June. However, all 27 EU states must agree. Negotiations on an accession agreement usually take years.
Habeck said Ukraine has been "on the road to Europe" at least since the pro-European protests of 2013 and 2014. The EU had made offers several times in the past that were then not fulfilled, criticized the Federal Minister of Economics and Climate Protection. "This must not happen again." Habeck said other countries are "token or fake offers" The European Union needs Ukraine as much as Ukraine needs the European Union, which has led to disappointments and real democratic setbacks there. Therefore, the path to the EU must be designed in such a way that Ukraine can follow it, but also complete it.
SPD leader Lars Klingbeil also spoke out in favor of candidate status for Ukraine. "We must now quickly open up accession prospects for Ukraine, for other countries as well", said the SPD leader, who met Kuleba together with Bundestag parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich.
SPD's Russia policy no longer an issue
The SPD's Russia policy in recent decades is no longer an issue for Kuleba. "The pre-war history in German-Russian relations and the role of the Social Democrats in it is something that is now history", he said. The Ukrainian foreign minister pointed out that Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, had made a U-turn on German arms deliveries and energy policy.
"I know that it is not easy to make such decisions", said Kuleba. The fact that the chancellor did this with the support of his party, he understands as a sign of strength: "You are strong enough to admit that the previous policy has failed and you need a new one." SPD is criticized for being too close to Russia in recent decades.
Use frozen Russia money for reconstruction
Kuleba can imagine laying claim to Russian funds frozen abroad to rebuild his country. "Legally, this is a complicated issue as much as politically", Kuleba told the "World on Thursday. To be successful with this, there would have to be a prepared legal path and the political will to implement it. "There are some countries that have already promised us that they will pass necessary legislation to make this possible", he said.
Germany is not yet one of them. However, he said he hopes Germany will participate because it is the best and most economically sensible way to raise funds for Ukrainian reconstruction. "Russia destroyed it, let Russia pay for it. This is a fair solution", he said.