In Call With Putin, Scholz Vows Germany’s Continued Support for Ukraine

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday, vowing to continue military support for Ukraine in a telephone call that Moscow said had featured the Russian president denouncing Berlin and the West for “flooding” Ukraine with weapons.

The call, which the Germany chancellery said lasted an hour, was the first between the two leaders since September and reflected their sharply diverging views over the potential for peace negotiations — a prospect which has been mentioned in public comments from Ukrainian and Russian officials but has gotten little traction.

Ukraine has scored a series of military victories in recent weeks, but is facing a harsh winter that could play a decisive role in the coming months, as Russian attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure have led to cuts in electricity and heating supplies.

The Kremlin has repeatedly blamed Ukraine for blocking peace talks, which Ukrainian officials say cannot take place without a withdrawal of Russian forces from their country.

American officials have said that serious peace talks between Ukraine and Russia are unlikely in the near future, because both sides seem to think that continued fighting will strengthen their eventual negotiating positions. Western leaders have stressed that the ultimate decision about entering negotiations with Russia will be a Ukrainian one.

President Biden said on Thursday that he would be willing to sit down with Mr. Putin if the Russian leader showed a willingness to end the war, though he added he would only do so in consultation with NATO allies. President Emmanuel Macron of France said his country would “never urge Ukrainians to make a compromise that will not be acceptable for them.”

Mr. Scholz, in his telephone conversation with Mr. Putin, urged the Russia leader to find a diplomatic solution that would involve the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, according to his spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit.

The chancellor also condemned the recent Russian strikes on the Ukrainian energy grid and other infrastructure and stressed the suffering that they have inflicted on civilians, Mr. Hebestreit said.

Berlin’s decision to increase military support for Kyiv has been a major shift for Germany, which has generally avoided providing military aid and tacked toward more pacifist foreign policy since its defeat in World War II.

For decades, Germany was at the forefront of fostering ties with Russia. Although Mr. Scholz quickly condemned the invasion of Ukraine, the chancellery has been criticized over the slower pace at which it has supplied weapons, and it initially resisted imposing sanctions on Russian energy supplies.

In their phone call, Mr. Putin blamed Berlin and other Western nations for what he called a destructive policy of arming and training the Ukrainian military, according to a description of the conversation from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Mr. Putin also called on Germany to reconsider its approach to the war, the readout said, noting that Mr. Scholz had initiated the call.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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