Olaf Scholz pledges no peace talks without Ukrainian agreement

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday that Germany and its allies were in talks with Kyiv over future security guarantees in preparation for a sustainable peace for Ukraine.

Olaf Scholz Bundestag March 3, 2023
Olaf Scholz speaks to the German Bundestag on March 3, 2023, just over a year after his promised "sea change" in German foreign policy. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“We are speaking with Kyiv and other partners over future security guarantees for Ukraine,” Scholz said in a speech to the German parliament. “Such security guarantees however come with the presumption that Ukraine
successfully defends itself in this war,” he said, adding that Germany would continue to support Kyiv with weapons supplies.

Scholz’s speech came just over a year after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, precipitating the chancellor to announce a “Zeitenwende” or “new era” in German defence and foreign policy.

Germany has upped investments in its own military, unwound its economic ties with Russia and broken its taboos over sending weapons into conflict zones.

Scholz renewed calls for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and said President Vladimir Putin was not ready for talks over a “just peace” and an end to the war.

“Nothing suggests” Putin would come to the negotiating table at the moment, Scholz said, reiterating that no talks with Russia would happen over the head of the Ukrainians. “Love of peace does not mean submission to a larger neighbor. If Ukraine stopped defending itself, it would not be peace, but the end of Ukraine.”

Scholz also used the speech to warn China against arming Russia in its war against Ukraine, following US claims Beijing was considering such a move.

“My message to Beijing is clear: use your influence in Moscow to push for the withdrawal of Russian troops,” Scholz said.

“And do not supply weapons to the aggressor Russia,” he added.

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: Germany must show ‘leadership and vision’ for Ukraine

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Scholz says Ukraine support of ‘existential importance’ – despite debt woes

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that military and financial support for Ukraine was of "existential importance" to Europe, defending defence spending commitments as Berlin confronts a domestic budget crisis.

Scholz says Ukraine support of 'existential importance' - despite debt woes

Germany has been one of the Ukraine’s biggest backers along with the United States, Scholz said, supplying Kyiv with weapons to battle Russia’s invading forces.

“We will continue with this support as long as it is necessary,” Scholz said in a speech to parliament. “This support is of existential importance. For Ukraine… but also for us in Europe,” he continued. “None of us want to imagine what even more serious consequences it would have for us if Putin won this war.”

The chancellor was addressing MPs following a shock constitutional court ruling earlier this month, which blew a massive hole in the government’s spending plans. Germany’s top court said the government had flouted a constitutional debt rule, which limits new borrowing to 0.35 percent of gross domestic product. The ruling has left the government scrambling to pass a new budget before the end of the year and shore up sorely needed investments in decarbonisation and the modernisation of its armed forces. The government also recently pledged to double its support for Ukraine next year – and will now need to address this promise in its new budget.

READ ALSO: Scholz defends spending as budget crisis rocks Germany

To quell the immediate crisis, the government plans to suspend the constitutional debt rule for a fourth year in a row.

The so-called debt brake was already lifted between 2020 and 2022 to tackle the crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the spike in energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

“Under no circumstances should we let up in our support for Ukraine and in overcoming the energy crisis,” Scholz said. “That would not be responsible, that would endanger our future.”

One recent poll finds that over two-thirds of Germans support maintaining weapons deliveries to Ukraine. In addition, over half of German respondents say they support arming Ukraine enough to retake territory from the Russians, rather than simply halt the Russian advance – a strategy one report in the Bild tabloid says Scholz is pursuing with the US secretly – in order to force Ukraine to negotiate.

The vast majority of Germans polled also say they consider Russia a threat and favour spending at least two percent of German GDP on defence.

READ ALSO: Germany unveils new Ukraine package before key talks