European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been blamed for insufficient support for Ukraine after rejecting President Volodymyr Zelensky’s invitation to visit Kyiv.

According to Politico, Zelensky invited von der Leyen to Ukraine to take part in the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the country’s independence, as well as in the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform.

In response, the President of Ukraine received a refusal, signed by her cabinet chief, Björn Seibert, not by the European Commission President herself as required by protocol.

The publication emphasises that the decision caused a stir among EU diplomats. According to them, rejecting such an invitation could raise doubts about von der Leyen’s commitment to demonstrating support for Ukraine at a time when Russia is amassing troops on its western borders and in Crimea.

It is noted that the reason for rejecting the invitation was an overly busy agenda of the President of the European Commission. However, this moment raised questions as the events in Kyiv are set for 23 and 24 August, a time when Brussels and the EU institutions are all but shuttered for summer holidays.

The Commission’s chief spokesman, Eric Mamer, declined to comment on the letter.

Politico journalists believe that von der Leyen’s refusal highlights the frayed relations and differing approaches to foreign policy between the European Commission President and European Council President Charles Michel. Last month, while visiting the line of contact in Donbas, he promised to make every effort to take part in the events in Ukraine scheduled for August.

Some EU officials said von der Leyen’s decision not to make a visit to Ukraine complicated efforts to schedule an EU-Ukraine Council meeting, which was expected to be held during the independence celebration.

Bohdan Marusyak

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