Vitali Klitschko: Germany has 'betrayed' Ukraine as Russian threat mounts

·2-min read
Vitali Klitschko - Instagram
Vitali Klitschko - Instagram

Vitali Klitschko, the former world heavyweight boxing champion turned mayor of Kyiv, has accused Germany of “betraying” Ukraine.

In a guest editorial for Germany’s highest-selling newspaper on Monday, Mr Klitschko took aim at Berlin for its ban on arms exports to Ukraine and its continued support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia.

“There is huge disappointment in Ukraine that the federal government is sticking to Nord Stream 2. That it does not want to supply defence weapons and at the same time prevents states like Estonia from supplying us with weapons,” he wrote in Bild.

“This is failure to provide assistance and betrayal of friends in a dramatic situation in which our country is threatened by Russian troops from several borders.”

Berlin is refusing to allow arms exports to Ukraine under a longstanding policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones.

It is also currently blocking Estonia from sending howitzers to Ukraine under a veto that was a condition of their original export from Germany.

Vitali Klitschko - Evgen Kotenko/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Vitali Klitschko - Evgen Kotenko/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Olaf Scholz’s government has sent mixed signals over Nord Stream. Annalena Baerbock, the foreign minister, has indicated Germany will honour an agreement with the US to scrap the pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine.

But Mr Scholz himself has cast doubt on that, suggesting the pipeline is a purely commercial matter.

“Many are asking: where does the German government actually stand? On the side of freedom and Ukraine? Or at the side of the aggressor?” Mr Klitschko wrote.

“Clear signals are now needed from the most important country in Europe.”

Mr Klitschko entered politics at the time of the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine and became mayor of Kyiv in 2014.

The 50-year-old has been training with Ukrainian territorial defence forces to resist a Russian invasion.

'Putin sympathisers have seized political control on many issues'

“I lived in Germany for a long time and I still have many friends there,” he wrote. “That is why it pains me particularly to see how Putin sympathisers have seized political control on many issues.

“The billions that Russia has invested to buy German corporations, ex-politicians and lobbyists have paid off for Vladimir Putin.

“Germany should ensure that lobbyists like Gerhard Schröder are forbidden by law from continuing to work for the Russian regime.”

Nord Stream 2 was approved by Mr Schröder, the former chancellor, who joined the board of directors of the pipeline company just days after leaving office.

Mr Schröder, who has also been chairman of the Russian oil company Rosneft since 2017, is an outspoken defender of Mr Putin.