‘No room for old dreams’, German president says of Russia ties

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FILE PHOTO: German President Steinmeier and Ukraine's President Zelenskiy attend a joint news briefing in Kyiv

By Andreas Rinke

BERLIN (Reuters) -Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused an “epochal break” in Germany’s ties with Moscow and the war has shattered former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s dream of a “common European home”, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday.

Steinmeier, who hails from a wing of Germany’s Social Democrats that long argued for closer economic ties to Moscow, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had brought a change in era.

“When we look at the Russia of today, there is no room for old dreams,” Steinmeier said in the prepared text of a national address. “Our countries are standing against each other today.”

“It has also plunged us in Germany into another time, into an insecurity we thought we had overcome: a time marked by war, violence and flight, by concerns about the expansion of war into a wildfire in Europe,” he said.

Steinmeier made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, when he promised further support to Ukraine, especially in the area of air defence. The visit was his first since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Steinmeier had originally planned to visit Ukraine in April but Kyiv refused to welcome him then amid disquiet over his past support for a Western rapprochement with Russia. Kyiv and Berlin later patched up their disagreement.

Steinmeier, whose role as head of state is largely ceremonial, said in his speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for the turmoil in Europe, and he decried his “imperial obsession”. Putin in turn has accused the West of inciting the war.

“Harder years, rough years are coming,” he said.

(Reporting by Andreas RinkeWriting by Paul Carrel; editing by Matthias Williams and Angus MacSwan)

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