BERLIN (Reuters) – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a “epoch-making rupture” in relations between Germany and Moscow, and the war will bring about former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s dream of a “common European home”. It has broken, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday.
Steinmeier, who comes from a faction of the German Social Democratic Party that has long advocated closer economic ties with Russia, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a game-changer.
“Looking at Russia today, there is no room for old dreams,” Steinmeier said in the prepared text of his national address.
“It also plunged us into another era in Germany, the anxiety we thought we had overcome. It’s a concern that it will spread,” he said.
Steinmeier made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday and promised further assistance to Ukraine, especially in the area of air defense. It was his first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Steinmeier was originally scheduled to visit Ukraine in April, but Kiev refused to welcome him.
In his speech, Steinmeier, whose role as head of state is largely ceremonial, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for the turmoil in Europe, calling his “empire.” Putin, meanwhile, has accused the West of fomenting war.
“There will be harder years, tougher years,” he said.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Matthias Williams and Angus MacSwan)