German Chancellor Scholz reaffirms support for Ukraine’s sovereignty amid threat of Russian invasion

14 February 2022, 06:34 PM

Germany will continue to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine amid the ongoing threat of a further Russian invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a joint press briefing with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kyiv on Feb. 14.

Scholz’s meeting with the Ukrainian leader comes before his next diplomatic overture, this time with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Speaking at a press briefing after talks with Scholz, the Ukrainian president stressed that he and his counterpart “share a common vision for a peaceful approach.”

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Zelensky thanked the German chancellor for the visit, stating that Ukraine “appreciates the show of solidarity.”

The Ukrainian president added that they had discussed issues of support for the Ukrainian economy, energy and security. However, Zelensky admitted that Germany and Ukraine were divided on the question of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, owned and built by Russia as a way to send gas directly via he Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, without relying on the Ukrainian gas transit system.

“We discussed the security risks associated with Nord Stream-2,” Zelensky said.

“And here we are at odds in our assessments. I’ve reiterated that our position is unchanged: today we are considering Nord Stream-2 exclusively through the prism of energy and security threats for us and for the region.”

“We clearly understand that this is a geopolitical weapon, and therefore Ukraine requires energy and security guarantees,” the Ukrainian president said.

Finally, Zelensky confirmed Kyiv’s commitment to joining NATO, adding that “there is no signal from us (Ukraine) that membership in NATO is not relevant for us.”

Scholz in turn claimed that Germany had been Ukraine’s largest donor in recent years, and would continue to provide financial assistance - though Germany will continue to refuse to supply Ukraine with weapons, in accordance with what the German government calls “long-standing policy.”

To prop up Ukraine’s quickly declining economic situation, due to the threat of war, the German chancellor announced a EUR 150 million loan ($169 million) to stabilize Ukraine’s economy.

Commenting on Russia’s troop build-up at Ukrainian border, Scholz emphasized that “there are no logical reasons for building up military potential.”

“We are very concerned about the situation at the border,” he said, adding that for Germany, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine cannot be a subject of negotiations.

“It is clear for the German federal government that further military aggression against Ukraine will entail serious political, economic and geostrategic consequences for Russia. I will stress this in Moscow tomorrow,” the German chancellor said.

He also pointed out that the ongoing diplomatic efforts were primarily aimed at “avoiding escalation,” and called for direct talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

Separately, he insisted that France and Germany were trying to find a diplomatic solution to the “difficult situation,” having intensified their efforts in the Normandy format.

French President Emmanuel Macron had visited Moscow last week, with the same goal as Scholz - though French claims of a Russian guarantee of de-escalation were swiftly denied by the Kremlin.

Earlier, before flying to Kyiv, Scholz tweeted that he would continue talks on a “still very serious situation” near the Ukrainian border.

“In Kyiv, it is important for me to express our unwavering solidarity and support for Ukraine,” he tweeted on Feb. 14.

“We urgently expect signs of de-escalation from Moscow. Further military aggression will have very serious consequences for Russia. I absolutely agree with our allies in this. We are seeing a very, very serious threat to peace in Europe.”

Ahead of Scholz’s visit to Kyiv, BBC News wrote that Ukraine crisis is a “challenge for the German leader.”

“Germany’s new chancellor would probably prefer to be implementing the ambitious social reforms promised by his coalition government. Instead, he finds his days and nights once again dominated by the threat of Russian aggression and the question of how the West should respond,” the BBC wrote, adding that Scholz is very clear on one aspect of the Ukraine crisis, namely he won’t send weapons to Ukraine, despite pressure from within his own government.

Ukrainian nerves have recently been fraying with regards to Germany, which has refused to supply Ukraine with lethal aid in the face of a looming Russian invasion threat, and has blocked third countries from selling German-made arms to the country.

Germany has defended itself against accusations of lacking support for Ukraine with the country saying that a recent shipment of non-lethal aid, consisting of 5,000 helmets, is a “signal” of German support for Ukraine.

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Additionally, Germany has refrained from direct promises to block the controversial Nord Stream-2 pipeline, which would double the amount of Russian gas coming into Germany, in the event of a further Russian invasion.

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