‘Absolutely necessary’ to talk to Russia – German chancellor
The German Chancellor has insisted that it’s of the utmost importance to maintain contacts with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite criticism levelled by some sources. The talks are needed to get the West's message across to Moscow, Olaf Scholz told the news agency dpa on Friday.
Both Scholz and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, plan to continue their contacts with Putin despite the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine. The offensive has been vehemently opposed by the US and its allies, the chancellor outlined.
“It is absolutely necessary to talk to Putin," Scholz explained, adding that he “will continue to do so, as will the French President.” He has also said that he would try to use such opportunities to make some “clear” statements to Russia. In particular, the chancellor said he would try to tell Putin that the EU would not impose a “dictated peace” on Ukraine by demanding that Kiev make concessions to end the conflict.
Scholz also called on Moscow to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory and reach an agreement that would be acceptable to Kiev.
Meanwhile, the chancellor confirmed Berlin’s readiness to further supply Ukraine with weapons and added that the arms shipments would arrive “on time” to aid Kiev in the battle for Donbass. He did not name any specific dates, however.
The statements came following a visit to Kiev by Scholz, Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, as well as Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. During the visit, Scholz called for a swift end to the hostilities but at the same time vowed to support Kiev with arms. He has also backed Ukraine’s EU candidacy bid and invited President Volodymyr Zelensky to take part in the next G7 summit.
Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.