According to a report, the scandal surrounding Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s canceled trip to Kyiv has strained the relationship between the Federal President and the Ukrainian head of state, Volodymyr Zelensky, more than previously known. Steinmeier has now rejected the “Spiegel” report, in which he claims he was quoted incorrectly.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has defended himself against a report by the news magazine “Spiegel”. The magazine had reported that Steinmeier had violently attacked the Ukrainian head of state Volodymyr Zelenskyj in a telephone call. As the “Spiegel” reported on Friday, in the first telephone conversation between the two presidents after the affront, Steinmeier personally confronted Selenskyj with Steinmeier’s failed trip to Kyiv and repeatedly asked him to clarify the background.

When they talked about Steinmeier’s failed visit to Kyiv and his correspondence, they reportedly said to Zelenskyj surly: “Please spare yourself and me from having to read it all out now,” Steinmeier is quoted as saying. The Office of the Federal President has now rejected this in relation to “Bild”. “Unlike the news magazine Der Spiegel, the phone call between Federal President Steinmeier and Ukrainian President Selenskyj on May 5 was aimed at clearing up irritations from the past. The quote used in the description of the ‘Spiegel’ was neither verbatim nor analogous.” The Office of the Federal President informed the “Spiegel” that it was not reporting on confidential discussions.

The report outlined the situation as follows: Before he wanted to talk about the future relationship between the two and new travel plans, the past had to be discussed again first, Steinmeier said according to insiders during the conversation. The unloading was a historic affront, unprecedented to an ally’s head of state.

Such a breach of diplomatic practice is unacceptable, the Federal President is said to have countered in the telephone conversation on May 5th. He would like an explanation for this. When Selenskyj protested in the conversation that he had known nothing about the process, Steinmeier is said to have gotten angry. The Federal President apparently said he had all the correspondence in front of him, referring to a diplomatic note from the Ukrainian government dated April 12, the day the trip was canceled. “Please spare yourself and me from having to read it all out now,” Steinmeier was quoted as saying. After further appeasement from Selenskyj, Steinmeier even asked a third time, according to “Spiegel”. He then got an evasive, but probably duly bruised reaction from the Ukrainian. Only then did the Federal President give in.

Since then, Steinmeier and Selenskyj have had another phone call on June 30, in which the Federal President’s travel plans to Kyiv are said to have been discussed. Steinmeier originally wanted to travel to Kyiv with his colleagues from Poland and the three Baltic states in mid-April. The Federal President, who as foreign and chancellery minister played a key role in shaping German Russia policy in the past, announced shortly beforehand that the Ukrainian leadership had rejected his visit.