The Russian invasion of Ukraine has backfired, with sanctions crippling the Russian economy, NATO strengthening its borders and Ukrainian forces continuing to fight tooth and nail for their homeland. However, Putin “should realise” that his only way out is through a deal with Ukraine.
German Chancellor Scholz spoke about his recent phone call with the Russian President, he was asked if there was any sign that Putin would have a “change of heart”.
He said: “No. It is clear that Russia has not achieved any of the war aims it started with at the beginning. Ukraine has not been conquered, but is defending itself with great skill, courage and self-sacrifice.
“NATO has not withdrawn, but has even strengthened its forces on the eastern flank of the alliance. The alliance will become even stronger when Finland and Sweden join NATO.
“The Russian military itself has suffered considerable losses, far more than in the 10 years of the Soviet Union’s Afghanistan campaign. Slowly, Putin should realise that the only way out of this situation is through an understanding with Ukraine.”
When asked what this understanding would look like, Mr Scholz demanded that Putin withdraw his troops from the country.
Speaking to t-online.de, he said: “I demand that Putin withdraw his troops again. Otherwise, there is a clear principle: Ukraine decides on these issues. We cannot negotiate on their behalf, neither in one direction nor the other.”
He said Western sanctions were working and that the Russian economy was “suffering massively”. He added that the West would continue to supply Ukraine with arms and impose sanctions on Russia until its invasion failed.
The Chancellor was tight lipped about the specific details surrounding his phone call with Putin, but noted that both leaders were blunt with each other.
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The snub was reportedly due to the fact that Germany was not providing weaponry to Kyiv and dragging its feet on economic sanctions to be imposed on Russia. Germany has since become a major weapons provider to the Ukrainians.
In a sign diplomatic relations were thawing, Chancellor Scholz said that German President Frank-Walter Steinmier and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a clarifying call on the issue.
He said: “First of all, I am very happy that President Zelensky and the Federal President had a clarifying discussion. That settles the matter.
“It is good that both the President of the Bundestag and the Foreign Minister were in Kyiv last week. I spoke with Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels, Kyiv and Munich. We spoke on the phone many times, most recently on Wednesday.”
Mr Scholz, however, refused to say when or if he would be visiting Kyiv.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.