“I have to stand the anger”: Andrei Melnik in an interview

Updated on 05/19/2022 07:06

  • Ukrainian Ambassador Andrei Melnik insisted on military support from Germany since the beginning of the war.
  • Many people resent his often undiplomatic words.
  • In an interview with our editors, Melnyk explains why the prospects for joining his country are important — and why he’s hoping Olaf Scholz goes to Kyiv.

Ambassador, how many hours do you sleep at night?

Andrei Melnik: Four, five hours. If that works, that’s fine. Sometimes it’s less because I can’t sleep.

The war in your homeland has now lasted 84 days. Has this situation become something of a rough normal for you?

No, it didn’t get normal — and it can’t either. This war affects not only my relatives and friends, but all my compatriots. I hope Germany won’t get used to this war either. It is also my duty to make sure that does not happen.

They are polarized in this country. There are many people who find your behavior too blatant and too undiplomatic for an ambassador. How do you answer these people?

I hope they will also have such ambassadors if Germany – may God bless it – finds itself in a situation similar to the situation in Ukraine. Then he needs people who want to show their teeth. Otherwise, no one will listen. This is the war. I can understand that this is uncomfortable for some people. But I have to accept the anger.

“Unfortunately, the tipping point will not be implemented”

Germany has already done a lot for Ukraine. The federal government has announced the handover of several weapons – including heavy equipment – in recent weeks. This was out of the question for many Germans at the start of this year. However, there seem to be problems with delivery and the interaction between industry, the Bundeswehr and politics.

Yes this is a problem. Unfortunately, the tipping point will not be implemented. We hope you realize the seriousness of the situation. If the federal government hesitates, it sends false signals. She really needs acting. I don’t understand why the traffic light hits the brake instead of the accelerator.

But the fact is that the Gibbard tanks that Germany wants to deliver will be the first Western tanks in Ukraine.

I have little hope that the tanks will actually come because no ammunition has been found yet. We can put this weapon to good use. But we knew from the start that there was no ammunition for this. Some people think that Panther tanks are already on the front lines. Training hasn’t started yet because it doesn’t make sense without ammunition. “Maybe one day we will only be able to put this tank as a monument in a museum,” my foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said recently when he was in Berlin.

Chancellor Olaf Schultz said this week that he did not want to travel to Kyiv because he did not want to be among those queuing for a photo there.

I think there should be no more arguments pretending. It is also about symbolism. It is expected. Yesterday my boss spoke to him again and invited him again to come to Kyiv. There is also a call to appear before the Verkhovna Rada. I see no reason why he should not come. If Mr. Schulz wanted to move things around here instead, he would have the opportunity to do so: he could announce the delivery of Leopard or Marder tanks. Still no decision has been made on that.

‘We just want a fair trial’

Do you sometimes dare to think of the time after the war?

Yes sure. If you don’t, you will go crazy. These persistent thoughts of war and trauma weigh on every Ukrainian. For us, the future includes the possibility of joining the European Union. This is also an important goal. At the moment we need weapons, but at the same time we need a political decision on the status of the EU candidate, to be taken as early as June. Unfortunately, there is still no consensus in the traffic light coalition. The parties support us, but the Chancellery is the last word. We hope that Germany will play a leading role in the European Union when it comes to Ukraine’s status as a candidate country.

But joining the European Union will not be possible immediately – but only after a long and complex process.

This is correct. Candidate status for Ukraine does not automatically mean membership. We don’t know how long it will take to join. Maybe ten years, maybe more, hopefully less. But this process must begin. If we fail to join, it will be our fault. We don’t want special treatment or a back door. We just want a fair trial. Just like all other countries.

Ukrainian Ambassador Andrei Melnik strongly criticized Chancellor Olaf Schultz’s temporary refusal of a trip to Kyiv. “Playing liverwort doesn’t sound like a statesman,” Melnik told dpa. “It’s about the most brutal war of extermination since the Nazi attack on Ukraine, it’s not a kindergarten.”

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