The photo said it all. Zelensky’s face when embraced by Macron summed up how Ukrainians saw yesterday’s visit from the leaders of France, Italy and Germany – the Ukrainian media reaction today has varied from scepticism to ridicule.
They had arrived to say that Ukraine should be given EU ‘candidate status’ – a goal that drove the 2014 Maidan revolution. This morning, the European Commission confirmed that it would back both Ukraine and Moldova in becoming members of the bloc – and excluded Georgia. After the news broke, President Zelensky said the decision was ‘the first step on the EU membership path that’ll certainly bring our victory closer’. But with Russia saying only yesterday that Ukraine might not exist in two years’ time, the focus at yesterday’s meetings was instead on Germany’s failure to provide the arms it promised at a time when fighting is at a crucial stage and Ukraine’s survival is in doubt.
This led to a caustic reaction in the Ukrainian press. UNIAN advised Zelensky to give Germany’s Olaf Scholz a taste of his own medicine by leaving him at the railway station and telling him to wait for a taxi: ‘Scholz is standing for an hour, two hours at the train station. He calls to ask where a taxi is. And Zelensky should answer: “It must arrive at the end of the month. Or in autumn”.’
Social and political journal NV said the real reason the trio of EU leaders came to Ukraine was to see how much longer it can fight Russia. Ukrainians are especially contemptuous of Scholz, who is delaying the supply of heavy weapons, promising to send them in the autumn or even winter. One social media user wrote: ‘Let’s bring these guys to Severodonetsk or Kharkiv or Mariupol. Maybe then they will see what is really going on,’ while another mocked the French leader’s relationship with Moscow, saying: ‘Macron is calling Putin tonight, saying “darling, please, don’t launch rockets while I’m in Kyiv, I love you”.’ And one damned the visit, writing: ‘How inappropriate it looks. Politicians in clean ironed suits arrived in the city destroyed by the shelling.’
Their visit came only after four months of a full-scale war. The real question was whether they had come to offer support – or to encourage Zelensky to cut his losses and negotiate with Vladimir Putin.
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