Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday he has invited Germany’s head of government and its head of state to visit Ukraine on May 9, the day Russia marks the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the Victory Day holiday to make an announcement about the war — either declaring a victory or escalating the conflict.
Germany is part of the Western alliance supporting Ukraine, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz has yet to make a solidarity visit to the country. Scholz has traded barbs with Ukrainian officials in recent weeks because of Kyiv’s refusal to invite Germany’s head of state, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whom Ukraine accuses of cozying up to Russia during his time as foreign minister.
Speaking at London’s Chatham House think-tank on Friday, Zelenskyy said he had spoken to Steinmeier and invited both him and Scholz to come to Kyiv.
He said Scholz “can make this very powerful political step to come here on the 9th of May, to Kyiv.”
"I am not explaining the significance, I think you're cultured enough to understand why."
There was no immediate word on whether the German politicians had agreed. German Parliament President Baerbel Bas is scheduled to visit Ukraine on Sunday and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to visit soon.
On Mariupol, a strategic southern port on the Azov Sea, Zelenskyy said the situation there amounted to "torture" and that no talks could happen with Russia if those civilians or troops were killed when they could have been released.
Mariupol has endured the most destructive siege of the 10-week-old war, and the sprawling Soviet-era Azovstal steel plant is the last part of the city still in the hands of holdout Ukrainian fighters.