BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany’s president would have liked to visit Ukraine and the fact that he was not received there was “irritating”, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, long a proponent of reconciliation with Russia, said on Tuesday Kyiv did not want him to visit. A Ukrainian official subsequently denied that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had rejected a visit offer from Steinmeier.
“The president would have liked to go to Ukraine and would have visited the president,” Scholz told RBB public radio.
“It would have been good to receive him. I don’t want to comment further. It is a little irritating, to be polite about it.”
Asked if he himself planned a visit to Kyiv, Scholz said he was in more regular contact with Zelenskiy than almost any other Western politician.
Steinmeier said on Tuesday that he had planned to visit Kyiv with his Polish counterpart and the presidents of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia “to send a strong signal of European solidarity with Ukraine … (but) that was not wanted in Kyiv”.
An adviser to Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Serhiy Leshchenko, denied in an interview with CNN that the Ukrainian president had rejected a visit offer from Steinmeier.
Germany’s mass-selling Bild newspaper reported that Zelenskiy had rejected Steinmeier’s plans to visit due to his close relations with Russia in recent years and his years of support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that would have doubled the flow of Russian gas.
Germany has since suspended the project.
(Reporting by Thomas EscrittEditing by Paul Carrel and Angus MacSwan)