HPoliticians note who travel to Ukraine – and which ones not. Federal President Steinmeier stayed at home. He was not welcome in Kyiv for weeks; That only changed after a phone call with the Ukrainian president this week. On the other hand, Chancellor Schulz felt that the German head of state had been prevented from making his own trip. That is why he accused the Ukrainian deputy prime minister of inappropriate emotions and the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany called him “liver sausage”. All this gives the impression that such trips – and those that did not – were used mainly to highlight the status of politicians.
This impression is wrong, but it is widespread. It feeds on the cliché that all politicians don’t do publicly are covert deals and all they do publicly are PR stunts. So if a politician travels to the needy, his opponents will assume that he only wants to portray himself as a saviour. If he does not travel, it is said: He does not care for the needy. But the natural state is that such manifestations benefit the politicians as well as those affected. The only question is: Who is more?
More concerned about the price of flour from Mariupol
Two very different German politicians traveled to Ukraine this week, CDU leader Friedrich Merz and left-wing MP Gregor Geysey. Both managed to draw the attention of many journalists to their activities there, which could only be useful to Ukrainians at a time when many Germans were again worried about the price of flour more than in Mariupol. The hosts’ gratitude was also expressed in the fact that both guests were welcomed – although they had no say in Germany, and therefore could not promise heavy weapons, millions of euros or sanctions.
But political action also consists in identifying the right signals. If you don’t understand it, you might think the dot is the same as the comma. The Federal Adviser’s previous attempt to largely dispense with banners and allow content to speak is evidence of a misunderstanding that this would make content more visible rather than less formal. Rarely is it shown that Schultz could do something else, as in the case of the Labor Day rally. Then he told opponents of the war that Ukraine needed German weapons, and seemed very resolute, as if neither Mutzenich nor Moscow was afraid. Then he fell silent again, as if frightened by his exclamation mark. This can’t happen to Merz and Jesse, two louder editions.
Does it help Ukraine? yes!
But they didn’t make any noise in Ukraine either. President Merz was received as a statesman, and he acted as a statesman. There were some things he wanted to report to the chancellor in confidence rather than reveal to the press. But like a high jumper who still tore the bar with his heels, soon after he publicly boasted that he had made reconciliation between Selenskyj and Steinmeier. This was presented differently from those around the Federal President. Was Merz’s journey just sparkling? wrong question. Does he help Ukraine visited by a high-ranking German politician? Yeah. It did no harm to Germany.
In the case of Gysi, the case is different. The left faces the ruins of its existence as Putin’s mentor. The fact that he is now traveling through Ukraine for six days to distribute €26,000 in donations, including money from his own pocket, to humanitarian organizations and receive their requests for relief supplies, can be seen as whitewashing. But it is still better than cold lectures from Germany, like many other leftists, why Ukraine should surrender.
Ukraine does not need mass tourism by self-promoters, but to the attention of influential politicians. If only because Putin is watching. He shows each guest that the world sees Ukraine first and foremost as a country, not as a battlefield. And Schulz? Accusing him of defiance in this matter, as Ambassador Melnick did, is shortening by two or three sausage lengths. Melnik plays the timpani in the Ukrainian Philharmonic Orchestra, although some observers describe it as the first violin. The desire to visit the Federal Chancellor resonates with all. It is good that the President of the Bundestag Bass is now traveling to Ukraine and that Foreign Minister Baerbock is following her. But it is important for Schulz to set an example himself, whether with French President Macron or alone. This tag you will see.