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German MPs snub Zelensky

The Ukrainian leader has turned into a ‘president of war and beggary,’ according to lawmakers from the right-wing AfD party

Seats of the AfD parliametnary group are mostly emply during a speech by ’s in the German Bundestag, in Berlin, , on June 11, 2024. ©  Global Look Press / dpa / Christoph Soeder

Lawmakers from two German opposition parties, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the new left-wing populist Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), refused to attend a speech by Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky in the Bundestag on Tuesday. Both parties have expressed opposition to Kiev’s policies, warning they will only lead to further bloodshed.

Zelensky’s speech was the second he has delivered to the German parliament since the start of the conflict with Russia, although it was the first address he has made in person, rather than via video link. The Ukrainian leader thanked Berlin for its support and called on the country to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin “loses this war.” The outcome of the conflict should leave no doubt about “who had won,” he insisted.

The event, however, was boycotted by all BSW MPs and most AfD lawmakers. Four members of the right-wing party, which placed second with 16% of the vote in last week’s EU parliamentary elections, did attend Zelensky’s speech, calling it “basic courtesy,” though party leaders sharply criticized the Ukrainian leader ahead of the session.

Read more ‘Stop playing with fire’ on Ukraine – German left-wing icon (VIDEO)

“We refuse to listen to a speaker in a camouflage suit,” Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla said, referring to Zelensky’s habit of wearing the military-style clothes. The two politicians also stated that his term has “expired” and that he now only remains “a president of war and beggary.” Ukraine was due to hold presidential elections in March, but Zelensky cancelled the vote, citing martial law. His term formally expired in May.

Ukraine doesn’t need a “president of war” but a “president of peace, [who] is ready to negotiate,” the AfD parliamentary leaders said. The BSW, a party formed by the German left-wing icon Sahra Wagenknecht, also issued a statement ahead of the event, in which it announced a boycott of the speech.

Read more Parties opposing Russia sanctions surge in EU elections

Zelensky is promoting “very dangerous” escalation, the document warned, arguing that the Ukrainian leader was ready to risk a nuclear conflict to achieve his goals. Such policies “should not be honored with a special event in the German Bundestag,” the statement said. The BSW maintained that it condemned Moscow’s military operation against Kiev but still pointed to Russia’s readiness for peace negotiations.

The parliamentary snub drew strong criticism from the German political establishment. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s office condemned it as a “lack of respect,” adding that the Social Democrat was “very disturbed but not surprised” by the development.

A member of the parliament’s defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, was quick to accuse both parties of doing Moscow’s bidding.

Russia has repeatedly stated that it is ready to engage in peace talks, as long as the situation on the ground is taken into account. In autumn 2022, four former Ukrainian regions joined Russia following a series of referendums. Kiev never recognized the vote, and continues to demand that Moscow withdraw its troops from all the territories Ukraine claims as its own, including Crimea, before any talks start.

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