Olaf Scholz made his inaugural visit as German chancellor to Moscow on Tuesday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the ongoing crisis on the Russia-Ukraine border dominating the agenda.
Scholz arrived in Moscow after a trip to Kiev on Monday, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to bolster Berlin’s support in the face of Russian aggression.
“The most important thing is that we manage the relations between the countries through good discussions with each other,” Scholz said during his meeting with Putin, adding that he was happy that the two leaders were able to meet face to face. face to face.
In a joint press conference after the meeting, the Chancellor said he hoped that in the near future the “blockages” to dialogue would be resolved through further high-level talks.
“It is our absolute duty as heads of government that Europe does not see an escalation towards war,” Scholz said.
“We are ready to continue working together. We are ready to embark on the path of negotiations,” Putin said at the press conference.
Putin added that Germany “is one of Russia’s most important partners” and said he intended to cooperate more with Berlin. He highlighted the role of economic ties between the two, with Germany being Russia’s second largest trading partner after China.
Talks between Scholz and Putin have been socially distanced due to the German Chancellor’s refusal to take a Russian PCR test
What did Olaf Scholz say about Ukraine?
Scholz said the buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border “can be seen as a threat.” However, “we are now hearing that more troops are being withdrawn which is a positive signal and we hope more will follow,” he added.
“For Europeans it is clear that lasting security cannot be achieved against Russia but only with Russia,” he told reporters.
The Chancellor added that “the inviolability of borders… cannot be negotiated”, referring to Ukraine.
“The dialogue cannot end in a dead end, it would be a disaster for everyone”, he added, “it is important to follow the path of diplomacy to avoid war in Europe”.
The two leaders expressed their willingness to continue the dialogue
Putin says Russia doesn’t want war
Responding to a question from DW’s Michaela Küfner about the possibility of war, Putin replied: “We don’t want war in Europe.”
The Russian president then referred to Scholz’s earlier comment that “people of this generation find it hard to imagine war in Europe.”
“This is exactly why we made our proposals, to start a process of discussion on equal security for all
About NATO, Putin said that “countries have the right to join military alliances as our colleagues in NATO always support, but it is also important to maintain its security and not at the expense of the security of other countries”.
“We are also ready to continue the discussion process,” the Russian president added.
Economically, Putin said Germany “is one of Russia’s most important partners” and said he intended to cooperate more with Berlin. He highlighted the role of economic ties between the two, with Germany being Russia’s second largest trading partner after China.
Referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, he said “let me clarify that we are ready to continue shipping gas through Ukraine beyond 2024”.
A major issue among Western powers with Nord Stream 2 has been its position to bypass Ukraine, which depends on gas revenues being transported through the country.
Berlin’s ambiguous relations with Moscow
Germany found itself in a difficult situation with the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is both a member of NATO and an important trading partner for Russia.
Berlin has repeatedly pledged its support for Ukrainian sovereignty, but has been less receptive to threats to abandon the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that would bring Russian fuel directly to Germany.
Germany has also been criticized for refusing to sell arms to Kiev, as the region is an active conflict zone.
Scholz’s trip is a “last-minute attempt…to avoid war”, but it’s “up to Putin to send signals of de-escalation now”, conservative German lawmaker Thomas Silberhorn told DW on Tuesday.
On an action plan for sanctions, Silberhorn warned that they would go “far beyond economic sanctions”, with “all relations between Russia and Western countries” being at stake.
Asked about Germany’s position on Nord Stream 2, Silberhorn said that “Germany is ready to include the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in a variety of sanctions from Western countries”, but as part of a sanctions package. wider.
The fate of Deutsche Welle in Russia
Scholz said he also discussed with Putin the possibility of Deutsche Welle receiving its broadcast rights in Russia.
The Kremlin recently banned Deutsche Welle from broadcasting in Russia after state-backed Russian channel RT failed to obtain a legal license to broadcast in Germany.
Scholz said he expects “Deutsche Welle to be able to continue its work in Russia.” At the same time, Putin said he was open to further discussions on the issue.
ab/wmr (dpa, AFP, Reuters)