“Our fight goes on. Ukraine will win.” With these words Ambassador Andrij Melnyk says goodbye to Germany. His successor Oleksii Makeiev will arrive in Berlin on Monday. What to expect from him?

On Saturday evening, shortly before 8 p.m., Andriy Melnyk is back home. From the border between Poland and Ukraine, he tweeted a photo of himself with a sign in the national colors of blue and yellow with the words “Ukraine” and the trident coat of arms in the background. With the fingers of his right hand, Melnyk shows the V for victory. “Our fight goes on. Ukraine will win. Dear German friends, thank you for everything. And goodbye,” he writes.

With these words, Melnyk marks the end of eight years as ambassador in Germany, which he himself and political Berlin will not soon forget. Some will now be happy that the “nuisance” is finally gone. Others may miss the radicalism with which he defended a country’s interests at war against a supposedly all-powerful aggressor.

Or not. Because there is a successor. Oleksii Makeiev is expected in Berlin on Monday. In a few days he will be accredited by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Then he can really get started. But how? Similar rowdy as its predecessor? Or in the classic diplomatic way?

Before leaving Kyiv by car for Berlin, Makeiev makes it clear that he has little to do with classical music – at least musically. On Twitter he asks to add German-language songs to his playlist for the 15-hour drive to Berlin by car. “More like something rocky!” He writes. Among other things, he downloaded “Germany” by Rammstein, “Here comes Alex” by Die Toten Hosen and “99 Luftballons” by Nena as the soundtrack for the road trip.

Makeiev has a lot in common with Melnyk. Both were born in 1975. Both speak excellent German – not unimportant for talk show appearances. Both are professional diplomats who, before being posted to Germany, gained experience in high-ranking posts in the Foreign Ministry in Kiev. In 2014 – at the time of the Russian annexation of Crimea – Makeiev became political director and thus the most important advisor to the then Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. In 2020 he became the special envoy for sanctions against Russia.

Makeiev has already contacted the new traffic light government. He was there a few weeks ago when Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) met her counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv and was confronted with the demand for Leopard 2 battle tanks. And he accompanied Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov to Odessa to meet German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). There is a picture showing Makeiev talking to the minister in front of the Gepard anti-aircraft tank.

Makeiev is as active on Twitter as Melnyk. He even taught his predecessor how to tweet. That was at the beginning of 2015, when the two flew to Berlin together – Makeiev as political director, Melnyk as prospective ambassador. Melnyk says his first tweet only came about with Makeiev’s technical assistance. “I’m looking forward to new tasks,” he wrote at the time, referring to his time in Berlin. At that time he only got five “likes”.

Today Melnyk has more than 165,000 followers, Makeiev just over 22,000. The number is likely to skyrocket once he arrives in Germany. Makeiev has been calling himself “Ukraine’s Ambassador Designate to Germany” on Twitter since Sunday. In the past few weeks, he has occasionally sent news in German – and addressed the German public with the demand for weapons. During the rocket attacks on Kyiv, Makeiev wrote from a subway station that had been converted into an air raid shelter: “What we can’t do alone, we can do together! But we need weapons for that – Russians are bombing us without understanding.”

That sounds a lot more diplomatic than its predecessor. He also doesn’t believe that Makeiev will emulate him. “He can’t be another Melnyk. The Germans wouldn’t want that either. He has to invent something else, he just has to be Makeiev,” he says.

The Greens politician Anton Hofreiter, who has campaigned vehemently for arms deliveries to Ukraine in recent months, makes a similar statement: “He will find his own way of filling this office.”

In any case, Makeiev will not have a closed period in Germany. Just a few days after his arrival, the first high-ranking visit to Germany from the Ukraine is scheduled. First Lady Olena Selenska visits the Frankfurt Book Fair. The following week Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal will come to Germany for an international Ukraine conference, which will focus primarily on reconstruction.

Maybe Makeiev will even get to know Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) there as the host of the conference. Despite Melnyk’s express request, he didn’t want to see Melnyk for a conversation until the end.