Ukraine already had statehood under USSR – Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said the Ukrainian state was already in existence while the country was still part of the Soviet Union. He also insisted that Crimea, which joined Russia after a referendum in 2014, has long been part of Ukraine.
In an interview with Germany’s ARD TV channel on Sunday, the host read a question from a viewer to Scholz, asking “Who does Crimea belong to?”
The German chancellor replied by saying: “Crimea has for a very, very long time belonged to Ukraine.” He added that “already in the days of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was an independent state with UN membership,” and said Russia left the USSR before Ukraine did.
Following the end of World War II, the Ukrainian SSR along with the Belarusian SSR as part of the Soviet Union were among the founding members of the United Nations and a signatory of its charter back in 1945. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia de facto became the sole legal successor of the defunct country.
As for Crimea, the predominantly Russian-speaking peninsula was handed over to the Ukrainian SSR by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev back in 1954.
In 2014, however, a referendum was held in Crimea, where the vast majority of its residents voted in favor of rejoining Russia. The plebiscite, which has not been recognized by Ukraine, the US, the EU and most other countries, was preceded by a coup in Kiev.
Many Crimeans had then begun to voice concerns that radical nationalists were attempting to forcibly impose the Ukrainian language and discriminate against local Russian speakers.
Scholz also commented on the ongoing military conflict between Ukraine and Russia during the interview.
He said Germany would not provide Ukraine with long-range missiles for fear that Kiev could use them to strike targets on Russian soil, pointing to the fact that the Biden administration in the US has had similar reservations.
Scholz hastened to add, however, that Germany is the “second-biggest supporter of Ukraine after the US,” pledging to keep backing Kiev for “as long as necessary.”
The chancellor also reiterated that Ukraine would not be able to join NATO as long as it is locked in a military conflict with Russia. According to Scholz, officials in Kiev are also well aware of this prerequisite.
At the same time, Germany, together with its partners, has been working on post-bellum security guarantees for Ukraine, Scholz said.