Under pressure, German leader coy on possible Ukraine visit

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz waits for the arrival of Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger for a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) (Michael Sohn, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BERLIN – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined to comment Monday on reports that he is planning to visit Ukraine together with his counterparts from France and Italy soon.

Weekly Bild am Sonntag had reported that Scholz would travel to Kyiv with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Premier Mario Draghi Berlin before this month's summit of leaders from the Group of Seven major economies in Germany.

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Several other European leaders, Germany's opposition leader and members of Scholz’s own Cabinet have visited Ukraine in recent weeks to express solidarity with the country in the face of Russia's military assault, raising the pressure on the German chancellor to do likewise.

Scholz fobbed off questions about the reported travel plans, saying that he wouldn't go beyond what his spokesperson had told reporters earlier in the day. The spokesperson had declined to discuss the reports.

While Germany has contributed considerable financial and military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion three months ago, Scholz's government has been criticized both at home and abroad for being slower to do so than the United States and some smaller European countries.

Scholz pushed back against such criticism, saying that the advanced howitzers Germany is providing to Ukraine, for example, require extensive training before they can be used.

“I think it would be good if those who express their views on this or that issue spent a moment thinking about it first," he said.

Ukraine's president made clear he believes Germany's military support could have come faster.

“To be honest, Germany joined a little later than some of our neighboring countries, as far as the arms deliveries were concerned. That's a fact,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy told German public broadcaster ZDF in an interview aired late Monday.

Zelenskyy said he expected the German chancellor to show “personal support” for Ukraine's membership of the European Union and on the issue of sanctions against Russia.

It is "important that Chancellor Scholz comes here during wartime,” he added.


Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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