A top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken issue with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s defence of the Russian people.
“It was not the Russian people who made the fatal decision to invade Ukraine. This war is Putin’s war,” Scholz said on Thursday evening at a political event.
This distinction, while widespread in Europe, is wrong, according to Mykhailo Podolyak, who wrote on the Telegram messenger app that a majority of the Russian population supported the war.
Podolyak is responsible for foreign policy statements from the Ukrainian presidential office and also issues updates on the peace talks between Kiev and Moscow.
His criticism of Scholz came a day after Zelenskyy addressed the German chancellor personally, calling for Berlin to provide more support to Ukraine as it fends off a full-scale Russian attack and civilian casualties in the country mount.
“Give Germany the leading role that Germany has earned,” Zelenskyy urged in a video address to the Bundestag parliament.
Scholz later thanked Zelenskyy for his “impressive words” but reiterated NATO’s refusal to intervene militarily in Ukraine.
Scholz’s government faced outrage from opposition parties across the political spectrum for blocking a motion to stage a special debate on Ukraine after Zelenskyy’s speech.
Instead, the Bundestag returned to its regular order of business, with deputy head of the legislature Katrin Göring-Eckardt awkwardly moving on to issue birthday greetings for two sitting lawmakers directly after Zelenskyy’s impassioned speech. She was heckled by critics as she did so.
The German coalition government, which voted down its conservative rivals’ motion for a debate, comprises Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP).
Leading members of the Greens and FDP have since expressed their regret at the handling of the events in the Bundestag.