Merkel ‘Farewell Tour’ Takes Her To Ukraine, With Pipeline, Crimea On Agenda

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will soon leave office after 16 years, is set to meet with Ukrainian leaders as part of her 'farewell tour.'  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is visiting Ukraine on August 22, two days after holding talks in Moscow with Vladimir Putin, the leader of Kyiv’s bitter Russian rival.

Merkel is scheduled to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as part of her "farewell tour" ahead of her departure next month following 16 years in office.

Merkel has been a key supporter of Kyiv since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region and began actively supporting separatist formations in parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014. That conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Merkel said in a news conference following her meeting with Putin that she would continue "to work for the territorial integrity of Ukraine" until she steps down following elections in Germany in September.

However, Germany has been criticized for its backing of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that will soon double Russian natural-gas supplies to Germany.

The United States and other countries have warned that the project would increase dependency on Russian energy supplies and deprive Ukraine of badly needed transit fees.

Berlin has raised the possibility of creating a mechanism to compensate Ukraine for lost revenue.

"You can call it a pragmatic approach," Zelenskiy said in an interview this week with several media outlets.

He called the German chancellor’s diplomacy a "very delicate balancing act," but he added that "in my opinion, this is too soft."

Ukraine on August 24 will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.

The country will also host several European leaders on August 23 for a summit on Crimea and to discuss ways of having the peninsula returned to Ukraine, but Merkel is not planning to participate in the conference.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa

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