Merkel – Zelenskyy and Zelenskyy – Biden: “A View from Bankova” with President’s Press Secretary Serhiy Nykyforov


On August 22, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Kyiv on an official visit to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And on August 30, the Ukrainian president will visit the United States. What do they plan to discuss in the frameworks of the visits? We discuss this with the press secretary of the President of Ukraine Serhiy Nykyforov in the program “A View from Bankova” of the UA TV channel

Mykola Syrokvash hosts the program

So, we are waiting for Angela Merkel’s visit to Ukraine. What is the essence of her visit and what will she talk about with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy?

– This visit cannot be considered as a separate one. This is a continuation of the contacts that are currently maintained by the Office of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This is a telephone conversation with Joe Biden, this is a visit of Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Berlin, this will now be a contact in Kyiv with Angela Merkel, and then there will be a visit to Washington D.C. to Joe Biden. That is, Angela Merkel’s visit to Kyiv is an episode in a series of top-level contacts devoted to the same topical issues: security in Ukraine, cybersecurity in Ukraine and in the world, in the United States; this is also Nord Stream 2, weapons, energy security of Europe and so on.

– Recently you said that Merkel’s visit to Kyiv proves the correctness of the thesis “Not a single word about Ukraine without Ukraine”

– Yes, it’s true. Some often said – Merkel and Biden had discussed, agreed on the future of Ukraine without its participation. This is not so. Now the leaders are just meeting separately – Merkel with President Zelenskyy, and then President Zelenskyy with Joe Biden.

– There will certainly be a rich agenda. Do you have an understanding what issues at this meeting will be resolved and closed?

— We’ll see. This is a negotiation. In the case of Germany and Ukraine, our interests are even opposite. Because Germany is interested in the functioning of Nord Stream 2, and we are not. To do this, there are negotiations to find some common ground, to find some reasonable compromise. I do not think that the President and the Chancellor will resolve all issues. These will be negotiations. In that joint statement by Biden and Merkel, Germany took on some rather loud obligations in case Russia somehow, after the launch of Nord Stream 2, uses its partially monopoly position (on the European gas market). And it is Germany that has the role of restraining it. We heard the announcement of Armin Laschet, who is the most likely next German chancellor. He is in the same bloc with Angela Merkel. He said he would not let Russia do it. During the visit we will hear from Chancellor what concrete steps Germany should take if Russia nevertheless tries to abuse its monopoly position. I think this will be discussed.

– Can we say that the visit of Angela Merkel is a kind of farewell visit and she has to show certain victories when she returns to Germany?

– I don’t think this is a farewell visit. Because there will be some continuity, apparently, in German politics. That is, the CDU/CSU bloc (“Christian Democratic Union of Germany” and “Christian Social Union in Bavaria” – ed.) most likely will rule. In no way do I give any assessment to the political situation in Germany, but that’s what they say. Therefore, Angela Merkel will hand over the affairs, and it will not be so, like “That’s it, I left, after me the deluge”. No, she will hand over the affairs to her successor Armin Laschet. And therefore, I would not say that this is a direct farewell visit. Well, maybe there will be some notes of farewell.

That is, this is not a purely ceremonial visit, it is an ordinary working visit dedicated to specific topics.

— What does this visit demonstrate to the Russian Federation and our European and American partners?

— The main message for the Russian Federation is that it will not be possible to reach an agreement with some of their European partners without the participation of Ukraine. All participants in this process are involved, one way or another. And the United States will then conduct direct negotiations with the President of Ukraine.

That is, there is still some solidarity and notion of values in Europe, not prices and profits. 

– As for Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the United States. What are the results of the trip to the United States of head of the Office of President Andriy Yermak?

– Yermak’s visit was, let’s say, technical. They were preparing the president’s visit. I don’t think it even needs to be discussed. Although they had very productive meetings there with both U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. President’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Those are the key figures in the country.

That is, the visit was very productive and the meetings were productive. But those were purely technical meetings. This is preparation for the main thing – for the visit of Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

— In what status is the president’s trip to the United States now?

— It’s getting ready. The program is now being defined. I can already say that not only Washington is on the program. There will be other cities on both coasts – on the west and on the east. I cannot say more now, because everything is in agreement. That is, not because I know some secrets, but because it is not yet finally known.

Meetings are planned with big American business and politicians, and, of course, with the president.

We have a letter from President Biden with greetings for the Independence Day. We will publish it a little later. But there, as before, it is noted that they are very much waiting for President Zelenskyy on August 30, in Washington D.C.

That is, everything goes on as usual. The visit is being prepared very intensively. The process reached the final phase. Now visas are being issued. That is, everything will be very good. It will be productive.

— Concerning Nord Stream 2 – will Ukraine require guarantees at the meeting of the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents?

— I think the issue of guarantees is more relevant for meetings of Zelenskyy and Merkel. I am sure that they will touch upon the subject of Nord Stream 2 in the United States in a broader context, in the context of European energy security. Because the United States understands that this is a political project, not an energy one, and not an economic one for Russia.

For Europe, it may be energetically beneficial, but it thus falls into a certain dependence, violates its own principles of diversification of energy carriers.

Of course, Nord Stream 2 will be discussed in Washington. But, I think, in the broader context of the overall energy security of Europe. About Poland, about Ukraine. For example, in Poland there are huge claims about Nord Stream 2.

We will inform you about the results of the negotiations later.

— It is also very important to discuss security issues in Donbas and some kind of opportunity to revive negotiations to resolve the situation. What do you know about this in the context of the Merkel-Zelenskyy and Zelenskyy-Biden meetings?

— Of course, there is a great desire of the Ukrainian president to revive the negotiations, which have reached a dead end.  Of course, they talk about it. Now everything rests on the will of Russia. And it all comes down to how countries can influence Russia.

Of course, they will talk about options of the restoration of the Normandy format. How can we first hold a meeting of political advisers to the leaders of the Normandy Four countries, then the foreign ministers and then – the leaders of the Normandy format countries themselves. Now I can’t tell you anything in more detail. I know this topic will definitely be on the agenda. And then they will agree to something. We are also waiting for news from the negotiations, just like you.