February 8, 2021
Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnyk criticized an interview with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier by the Rheinische Post, accusing him of playing up Russian propaganda and distorting history. The ambassador said this in a comment to Ukrinform.
In an interview, Frank-Walter Steinmeier actually supported the completion of the Russian Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, arguing that “another completely different dimension is important for the Germans – a look at a very changing history with Russia.” In particular, he said that June 22 marks the 80th anniversary of the German attack on the Soviet Union; more than 20 million people in the former USSR fell victim to the war. “This does not justify Russia’s erroneous policy today, but we have no right to lose sight of this broader context,” he said.
The Ukrainian ambassador spoke out against the distortion of the history of the Nazi occupation, as well as attempts to justify the completion of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline. The above-mentioned statements of the federal president on historical memory caused frank surprise and real shock in Ukraine. After all, in this way, the decades-old narrative imposed by Russian propaganda that Germany should bear its historical responsibility and atone for its barbaric crimes of the Nazi occupation only to Russia is essentially picked up,” Mr. Melnyk explained.
He clarified that the interpretation – when the USSR is automatically equated with Russia – is “an absolutely unacceptable distortion of history and direct disregard for the excessive sacrifices of other peoples,” especially Ukrainians.
The ambassador said that the Ukrainian side was initiating a solemn meeting of the Bundestag on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the German attack on the USSR, dedicated to honoring the forgotten victims of the war unleashed by Adolf Hitler. He reminded that on June 22, 1941, not Moscow, but Ukrainian cities – Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Odesa, Sevastopol – were subjected to massive Luftwaffe attacks.
“It is here that the broader context should be borne in mind before cynically using so sensitive an historical argument for whitening Nord Stream-2, which already today bears the direct threat of a new hot phase of Russian aggression that does not stop day or night for the seventh year in a row and brings unspeakable pain and suffering to Ukraine,” Andriy Melnyk said.
The Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline is about 94% built, leaving about 120 kilometers of pipes in Danish and 30 kilometers in German waters. The project stalled in December 2019 after the US decided to impose sanctions on it. Russia resumed construction on its own late last year.