Germany’s President Frank Steinmeier had hoped to pay a visit to Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv to demonstrate European solidarity in the wake of Russia's war on its neighbor. Unfortunately for him, Ukraine has a different request for Steinmeier: stay home.

On Tuesday, German media reported that Steinmeier was prepared to join his European counterparts from Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a trip to Kyiv where they would meet with Ukraine’s President Volodomyr Zelensky. But before the trip could be finalized, Ukrainian diplomats conveyed the message to Steinmeier that he was not welcome in Ukraine. 

“We all here know Steinmeier’s close ties to Russia, which have also been marked by the Steinmeier formula,” an anonymous Ukrainian diplomat told German newspaper Bild, according to The Guardian. “He is currently not welcome in Kyiv. We will see whether that will change one day.”

Steinmeier, who comes from the same center-left Social Democrats as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, confirmed in his own statement that the trip was off.

“I was ready to do this, but apparently — and I have to take note of this — this was not wanted in Kyiv,” said Steinmeier 

To deliver such a humiliating rebuke to the head of state of a major European ally only speaks to the antipathy felt in Ukraine and among aides to Zelensky towards Germany’s policies towards Russia. 

Russia’s decision to launch a war against Ukraine has been interpreted by many as a failure of its trade-focused relationship with Moscow. Before the war, Germany was repeatedly ridiculed for its refusal to supply lethal military aid or authorize other nations to send German-made weapons to Ukraine until after the war started. Germany’s advocacy for the now-defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia was also seen as particularly offensive in Kyiv, which repeatedly argued against the project.

Steinmeier has earned a particular amount of ire for his advocacy of good relations with Russia from his time as former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister. 

In 2016, Steinmeier pushed a diplomatic initiative that became known as the Steinmeier Formula that called for elections in the Donbas, an amnesty plan for combatants and a withdrawal of military equipment on both sides. Neither Russia nor Ukraine agreed to its implementation, but Zelensky was greeted with rancorous protests by Ukrainians in 2019 over the proposal. 

 Last week, Steinmeier acknowledged that his handling of Russia had resulted in mistakes, pointing to the approval of Nord Stream 2 specifically. 

"My sticking to Nord Stream 2, that was definitely a mistake,” the president said on 4 April. “We held on to bridges that Russia no longer believed in, and of which our partners warned us.”

“We failed to build a common European house. I did not believe Vladimir Putin would embrace his country’s complete economic, political and moral ruin for the sake of his imperial madness," Steinmeier continued.