Chancellor Olaf Scholz traveled to Ukraine together with Macron and Draghi. Their goal: to dispel doubts about the West’s willingness to provide sufficient support to Ukraine. Have they succeeded? Questionable.

Is that the sentence that was worth the long wait? The sentence that the Chancellor has avoided for what feels like an eternity. “Ukraine is part of the European family,” said Olaf Scholz. And that Germany would work to ensure that the EU would give Ukraine, like the Republic of Moldova, the status of candidate countries. Scholz said that in Kyiv. It is one of the sentences that his host, the Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, had hoped for and expected. But also: only one. He hoped and waited in vain for other sentences that he had hoped for and expected.

One could sum up this trip, which had such a long, twisted history – from the upset after the Federal President was uninvited to the almost stubborn wait-and-see attitude of the Chancellor afterwards – one could sum up this trip with the sentence: Olaf Scholz has now delivered. One has to add, at least from the point of view of Ukraine: only the bare minimum. Not more. From a more neutral perspective, however, one could add: There wasn’t much more to it than that.

So far the highest attendance Kyiv has seen

“I’m not going to join a group of people who do something for a short in and out with a photo shoot. But when they do, then it’s always about very specific things.” The two sentences by Olaf Scholz, with which he explains his hesitation are already legendary; he has not made many friends with it.Anyone who expected or hoped that these very specific things would be a tangible promise to deliver so-called heavy weapons to Ukraine must inevitably be disappointed. Scholz and his two fellow travelers, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, only had the EU embassy with them as gifts – and themselves.

Macron, Draghi, Scholz. This is the highest-ranking tour company to have found its way to Kyiv since the war began 113 days ago. Her visit in a pack of three is to be understood as a sign. The three of them, one could certainly say so, are the faces of the EU that Ukraine is pushing so vehemently into. They represent the three member states with the most inhabitants and the strongest economic power; all three also belong to the G7, the union of strong democratic economies. It was also well thought out that they found their way to the Ukraine together just now.

These are days of preliminary decision. This Friday, the EU Commission will announce whether Ukraine will get what it wants: the status of a candidate for accession to the European Union. De jure it doesn’t exist at all, but it now has an enormous symbolic value. Enthusiasm about Ukraine as a candidate for accession is limited in a number of countries; it is a value in itself when Germany and France – both of whom have been hesitant for a long time – stand up for Ukraine.

Olaf Scholz makes a promise

The EU heads of government will then meet in Brussels in the middle of next week, and the G7 will meet in Elmau, Bavaria, on Sunday. The war in Ukraine will play the main role at both meetings, and Zelenskyy will take part in both meetings, presumably connected from Kyiv. Last but not least, it will be about how the consequences of Putin’s attack, his brutal war and his policy of energy and food shortages can be mitigated, not only for Ukraine but also for the rest of the world.

It’s true, words can’t buy you anything. And yet some words are of enormous value – if you take them seriously. Ukraine will receive help and support “as long as it is necessary for the fight for independence,” said Scholz in Kyiv. That’s not nothing. That’s the promise to stick with the sanctions until Putin is ready for peace negotiations with Ukraine – it doesn’t matter , how long it takes, and no matter how much it costs.

Differing interests remain

And the costs will be high, not just financially, but that too. Ukraine needs five billion euros every month just to balance out its state deficit, tens of billions will go into reconstruction, and by then further billions will flow into weapons, even if not necessarily into those that Ukraine most urgently wants.

Because one basic problem remains even after this visit. It consists in the different interests of Ukraine on the one hand and the western EU members on the other. The NATO countries – USA, France and Germany first and foremost – want to avoid that the war spreads and NATO gets involved. That is also the real reason why the West has so far turned down all requests from the Ukrainians to supply them with armored personnel carriers or battle tanks. Tanks can also quickly cross the border to Russia. Tanks from NATO countries on his territory would give Putin every reason to regard the West as a war party. Nobody wants to take the risk right now.

Even after the departure of Scholz, Macron and Draghi, the Russian ambassador in Berlin, the President of Ukraine, and the Klitschko brothers will not stop calling for more and, above all, more powerful weapons. That is their right. It won’t help them.