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Jul 13, 2021
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Zelensky visited Merkel in the “washing machine”

In the photo: during the visit of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to Berlin

In the photo: during the visit of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to Berlin (Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka / dpa / Global Look Press)

Program of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, who arrived on July 11 on a two-day working visit to Germany at the invitation of the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel suddenly got cut. Scheduled for Monday meeting of the Ukrainian leader with the head of the Ministry of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer never took place. The cancellation of the negotiations without explaining the reasons at a briefing in Berlin was announced by a representative of the German Defense Ministry.

We will remind, earlier the Office of the President of Ukraine informed that Zelensky is scheduled to meet with the President in Germany. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, and several other officials.

Among these “others” was a possible successor to the current chancellor, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, Prime Minister of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschetwith whom the prudent Zelenskiy managed to discuss the importance of supporting Ukraine by the next federal government in Germany.

As for Merkel, she preferred to devote time to the guest at dinner at her own headquarters, located in the building of the Federal Chancellery.

It is symbolic that Berliners themselves call this building next to the Reichstag “washing machine”. True, only because of the architectural features.

On the official agenda, the topics of conversation between the two leaders include bilateral relations, the implementation of the Minsk Agreements to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the process of Ukrainian reforms, economic issues and relations with Russia.

However, as a source in the President’s Office told the Legitimny Telegram channel, in fact, there will be “behind-the-scenes trading” in Germany. According to him, “the official release after the meeting will be standard, but all the most important will remain behind the scenes”.

At the same time, for some reason, Zelensky believes that “now we can demand maximum ‘nishtyaks’ from our Western partners”. Even the plan and the estimated date of joining the EU, they are sure, can be bargained for, “how Poroshenko I got a visa-free trade at the right time ”. Everything supposedly depends on the ability to trade.

But does the bankrupt, which Ukraine is at the moment, have the right to demand anything at all?

– The European Union, one might say, has only “digested” Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. It will expand further to the Balkans in 2025 – with all the “knots”, with all the contradictions, with all the conflicts that are there, – comments on the situation Associate Professor of the Russian State Humanitarian University, expert of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Vadim Trukhachev, – And he still has to drag Ukraine on himself? The European Union will burst. And Germany will overstrain, after all, the forces are not endless.

In this sense, you can pound water in a mortar as much as you like, but Ukraine is not expected in the EU. And Zelensky on this score can strain his brains and make plans as much as he wants, but nothing will come of it.

For the President of Ukraine, this is an exclusively ritual visit to show – “Germany is with us.” Well, Merkel herself also wants to show Russia, the United States, her political class, the European Union that “we will not abandon Ukraine.”

To be honest, Berlin supports the project “Ukraine as Anti-Russia”.

But this does not mean that it will fulfill all the “wishes” of Ukraine. And, for example, it will give up Nord Stream 2. Will not refuse. And in this matter the Germans will not listen to Ukraine.

They can give some handouts to Ukraine in this sense. But they themselves will decide what kind of handouts they will be.

“SP”: – And Kiev just expects to receive from Germany very serious compensation for the launch of “SP-2”. We are talking about billions of euros …

– Obviously, Ukraine will receive some money. But in a much smaller volume than they would like. Moreover, the Germans see that the money allocated to Kiev seems to go into a bottomless barrel and are not really invested anywhere.

Therefore, Berlin will act carefully here.

For all that, the Ukraine project is very important for them. It is important, in particular, in order to show Russia and Russian citizens that the European choice is right. Although in reality the idea itself is failing.

The Germans do not like the fact that theft and bribery are flourishing in Ukraine. I don’t like the fact that the president does not control the neo-Nazi battalions there.

Therefore, they will help, but very, very dosed.

“SP”: – One of the topics of the negotiations – “relations with Russia.” What can be discussed here? Moreover, Merkel leaves the political arena in September …

– As a matter of fact, there is nothing to discuss. Germany will once again make it clear that Ukraine should not meddle in its relations with Russia. That Germany itself should decide what relations to build with Moscow.

No matter how offended Zelensky may be here, Germany is more likely to discuss relations with Russia with Slovenia, the current EU presidency, with a population of two million. The weight of Slovenia, any – political, economic, whatever – is much higher than the weight of Ukraine.

But Germany needs Ukraine as a means of putting pressure on Russia. Germany itself. Without anyone’s direction from across the ocean.

One should not assume that we have a calm partnership with the FRG. No, this is our tough competitor, and in some places – the enemy. Our interests collide precisely in the post-Soviet space and partly in the Balkans. And in this sense, Germany needs Ukraine.

By the way, Berlin also needs the Ukrainian gas transportation system as a means of putting pressure on Moscow. In order to put pressure on Russia at some point and get the results you need. To be able to maneuver: we want, today we pump more through the Nord Stream, we want – less. We want, today we are pumping more through Ukraine, we want – less.

But, again, the amount of gas that will be pumped through Ukraine, Germany (along with Austria and other countries that still receive gas through this pipe) will be determined by itself. Depending on your interests.

“SP”: – Is Russia obliged to pump gas through the Ukrainian pipe? Yes, there is now a transit agreement with Ukraine. But it has its own term, and then, probably, it is our business to extend it or not.

– Germany, of course, would like to keep transit through Ukraine, but only partially. Because it is too unpredictable and dangerous to fully rely on it. Therefore, “Nord Stream-2”, in any case, will be. The only thing that can change are the volumes that are pumped through it.

Alexander Kamkin, Leading Researcher, Center for German Studies, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, in turn, noted that Ukraine is already tired of Berlin in a pose with an eternally outstretched hand:

– What can Ukraine really offer now? Perhaps only the role of some irritating factor in the dialogue between the EU and Russia.

Therefore, they can promise a lot. But definitely not EU membership.

As a matter of fact, Poroshenko deceived the Ukrainians even with a visa-free regime. They counted on the opportunity to go to Europe to work. And visa-free was given only for short-term tourist trips.

Therefore, I believe that Zelensky will also be promised three boxes, but in reality he will not receive anything concrete.

However, one should not forget that Germany is one of the initiators of the so-called Eastern Partnership program, which provides for the strengthening of German foreign policy in the post-Soviet countries. And, among other things, Berlin was among those who provided diplomatic and media support to the putschists in Kiev in 2014.

Therefore, we can say that Germany’s interests are not limited exclusively to the economy.

Of course, in the interests of German business, it would be more logical to simply not let Zelensky into Berlin. But here both geopolitics and Germany’s allied commitments come into play.

So we are now, rather, witnessing a long-playing performance. And this visit will not lead to anything breakthrough.

“SP”: – Zelensky met with Lashet, who, as you know, is tipped to be Merkel’s successor, and naturally tried to turn him against Russia. Do you think it worked out?

– Russian-German relations do not depend on Zelensky. But fundamentally, I think, after Merkel’s departure, nothing will change here. Laschet (and his chances are high enough) will pursue the same line – this is a constant maneuvering between pressure from outside, the notorious policy of “values” and the interests of his own and European business.

Accordingly, we can talk about some kind of positive movement on insignificant aspects. But you shouldn’t expect any positive breakthroughs. The main thing is that it doesn’t get worse. And the rest – we’ll figure it out.

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