Before the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine, there was a lively coming and going of Western leaders in Moscow.

The pictures at Vladimir Putin's six-meter table with Viktor Orban, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz are iconic.

Since February 24th it was over.

Scholz and Macron continued to call the warlord in the Kremlin.

So far, however, only Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has appeared there as a visitor from outside Putin's immediate sphere of influence.

At the time, he was expressly asked to mediate by the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Stephen Lowenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has now traveled to Moscow as the first head of government from the European Union.

He flew to Turkey on a chartered plane on Sunday evening, from where onward travel to Russia is still possible.

A meeting with the Russian President is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the afternoon.

Nehammer also traveled to Bucha

A joint press conference is not planned, which Nehammer rejected, according to Austria.

Nehammer had just returned from a visit to Kyiv on Sunday, where he had met Zelenskyj and other interlocutors.

He also inspected the scene of alleged war crimes in Bucha.

Nehammer said he had coordinated his trip with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel.

He informed Selenskyj of his intentions during his visit to Kyiv, as well as by telephone to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (probably because of the travel route) and German Chancellor Scholz.

Austria is a member of the European Union but not of NATO.

Permanent neutrality is enshrined in the constitution.

However, after the war began, Nehammer repeatedly took a clear stand against Russian aggression and expressed his solidarity with Ukraine.

Nehammer justified this by saying that neutrality is a military one, not one of the values.

There can be no neutrality towards violations of international law.

The Austrian chancellor does not want to be "morally neutral".

However, the Chancellor had already said in February that Austria would continue to be available as a bridge builder and offered Vienna as a place for Putin to meet Zelensky.

The attempt to be a “bridge builder” is what he has given as his motivation for the trip to Moscow.

According to Nehammer, the trip was his own idea and initiative.

According to the Austria Press Agency, he justified them in Vienna before departure as follows: "Everything that can be done to help the people in Ukraine to stop the war should be done.

For me it is the order of the day to try everything.” The trip to Moscow was “a risky mission”, but the possibility of a “conversation bridge” arose.

"Personal diplomacy" is needed, it's about possibilities for dialogue between Zelenskyj and Putin, a ceasefire or humanitarian corridors.

He doesn't expect miracles, but he doesn't want to do nothing either.

He did not want to be “morally neutral” and would address the “war crimes” in Ukraine, he assured.

"Talking doesn't mean giving up your position, quite the contrary, I'm telling him (Putin; editor's note)."