German Lawmakers Skip Zelensky Address

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been labeled a “president of war and beggary” by legislators from Germany’s right-wing AfD party.

Lawmakers from two German opposition parties, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the new left-wing populist Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), have declined to attend a speech by Ukraine’s President Zelensky in the Bundestag. Both parties have expressed opposition to Kyiv’s policies, warning that they could only lead to further bloodshed.

Zelensky delivered his second address to the German parliament since the start of the conflict between Kyiv and Moscow on Tuesday. This marked the first time he addressed the legislature in person, rather than via a video link. The Ukrainian leader thanked Berlin for its support and urged the country to ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin “loses this war.” He insisted that the outcome of the conflict should leave no doubt about “who had won.”

However, the event was boycotted by all BSW MPs and most AfD lawmakers. Four members of the right-wing party did attend Zelensky’s speech, citing it as a matter of “basic courtesy.” The leaders of the AfD in the legislature sharply criticized the Ukrainian leader prior to the session.

“We refuse to listen to a speaker in a camouflage suit,” Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla said, referring to Zelensky’s customary attire, acquired during the conflict. The two politicians also asserted that his term had “expired” and that he now only remained “a president of war and beggary.” Ukraine was scheduled to hold presidential elections in March, but Zelensky cancelled the vote, citing martial law. His term officially expired in May.

The AfD parliamentary leaders stated that Ukraine currently needs not a “president of war” but a “president of peace, [who] is ready to negotiate.” The BSW, a party founded by German left-wing icon Sahra Wagenknecht, also issued a statement prior to the event, announcing its boycott of the speech.

Zelensky is promoting “very dangerous” escalation, the document warned, adding that the Ukrainian leader was willing to risk a nuclear conflict to achieve his goals. Such policies “should not be honored with a special event in the German Bundestag,” the statement said. The BSW maintained that it condemned Moscow’s military operation against Kyiv but still pointed to Russia’s readiness for peace negotiations.

The parliamentary snub drew strong criticism from the German political establishment. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s office condemned it as a “lack of respect,” adding that the Social Democrat was “very disturbed but not surprised” by the development.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a member of the parliament’s defense committee, promptly accused both parties of acting in Moscow’s interest.

Russia has repeatedly stated that it is ready to engage in peace talks at any moment, as long as the situation on the ground is considered. In autumn 2022, four former Ukrainian regions joined Russia following a series of referendums. Kyiv has never recognized the vote and continues to demand that Moscow withdraw its troops from all the territories Ukraine claims as its own, including Crimea, before any talks begin.