BERLIN: Far-right and left-wing nationalist lawmakers in Germany, boycotted a parliamentary address by the Ukrainian President, Volody­myr Zelensky, on Tuesday. In his speech, Zelensky warned that ‘pro-Russian rhetoric’, posed a ‘growing danger’, to nations in the EU.

Zelensky’s speech came at the start of a diplomatic whirlwind tour, to shore up support for Kyiv’s battle against Russia. In a depiction of the increasing headwind Kyiv faces in obtaining ‘backing’ from MPs, from the far-right ‘AfD’ and far-left ‘BSW’ parties, they boycotted Zelensky’s address to parliament.

The parties made significant gains in Sunday’s European elections, with the AfD scoring higher than all three parties, in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition. The ‘BSW,’ which is a newcomer that campaigned against weapon deliveries to Ukraine, bagged just over six percent of the vote.

Zelensky cautioned that the parties’ stance poses a threat that ‘stretches beyond Ukraine’. “It seems to me that the most important thing is that people did not choose pro-Russian populist rhetoric. But radical pro-Russian rhetoric is dangerous for your countries,” Zelensky warned. The co-leaders of the AfD stated that they “refused to listen to a speaker wearing camouflage fatigues”.

“Ukraine does not need a war president now, it needs a peace president who is ready to negotiate,” said Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel. They added that AfD MPs had therefore, ‘decided to leave their seats empty’ at the ‘Bundestag’, on Tuesday.

‘No dictated peace’

Ahead of a peace conference for Ukraine in Switzerland (to which Russia is not invited), parties like the ‘AfD’ are pushing the message that the West’s current strategy to arm Ukraine, will ‘not bring an end to hostilities’.

Scholz, who was speaking at a ‘Ukraine reconstruction’ conference in Berlin, vowed not to let up support for Kyiv. He urged allies to rush air defence systems to Ukraine, to help the country fend off Russia’s missiles. Scholz stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin, ‘will not be allowed to win the war’.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2024

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