German Leader Travels to Russia, Ukraine as Tensions Grow


BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is flying to Ukraine and Russia this week in an effort to assist defuse escalating tensions as Western intelligence officers warn {that a} Russian invasion of Ukraine is more and more imminent and Germany has known as on its residents to depart Ukraine as shortly as attainable.

Forward of his first visits as chancellor to Kyiv on Monday and Moscow on Tuesday for conferences with the Ukrainian and Russian presidents, Scholz has renewed his warning to Russia, in addition to his advocacy of constant diplomacy in a number of codecs.

“It’s our job to make sure that we forestall a struggle in Europe, in that we ship a transparent message to Russia that any navy aggression would have penalties that may be very excessive for Russia and its prospects, and that we’re united with our allies,” Scholz informed the German parliament’s higher home on Friday.

“However on the similar time that additionally consists of utilizing all alternatives for talks and additional improvement,” Scholz mentioned.

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Russia has concentrated greater than 100,000 troops close to Ukraine’s border and launched a sequence of navy maneuvers within the area, however says it has no plans to invade the nation.

Moscow desires ensures from the West that NATO received’t permit Ukraine and different former Soviet nations to hitch as members, and for the alliance to halt weapon deployments to Ukraine and roll again its forces from Jap Europe. The U.S. and NATO flatly reject these calls for.

Scholz has repeatedly mentioned that Moscow would pay a “excessive worth” within the occasion of an assault, however his authorities’s refusal to provide deadly weapons to Ukraine or to spell out which sanctions it will help in opposition to Russia have drawn criticism overseas and at house and raised questions on Berlin’s resolve in standing as much as Russia.

Germany’s reluctant place is partly rooted in its historical past of aggression through the twentieth century when the nation’s personal militarization in Europe throughout two world wars led many postwar German leaders to view any navy response as a really final resort.

Regardless of this historic burden, consultants say it’s of utmost significance now that Scholz stresses Germany is in sync with its European and American allies, particularly when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Scholz has to convey a really clear message in Moscow, and it will possibly actually solely be: There may be unity and oneness within the Western alliance. There isn’t any chance of driving a wedge into the Western alliance, and that should be understood in Moscow. I believe that’s an important message he has to convey there,” mentioned Markus Ziener, an knowledgeable with the German Marshall Fund.

“On the similar time, he has to make it clear that the prices are excessive,” Ziener added. “That’s mainly the message that’s most definitely to catch on in Moscow as properly. So a navy invasion of Ukraine has vital penalties for Russia.”

Scholz has not explicitly mentioned what sort of penalties or sanctions Russia must face if it invades Ukraine, however it’s clear that the way forward for the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that seeks to deliver Russian pure fuel to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine, is at stake.

U.S. President Joe Biden threatened final week that the pipeline could be blocked within the case of an invasion.

That may damage Russia economically but in addition trigger provide issues for Germany. Development of the pipeline has been accomplished, however it’s not but working.

“Germany doesn’t have a lot leverage, apart from saying that it received’t approve Nord Stream 2, which is the one political leverage,” Claudia Kemfert, the pinnacle of division of power, transport and setting on the German Institute for Financial Analysis, mentioned.

“In any other case, Germany may be very prone to blackmail. We are able to’t do an excessive amount of. Now we have dedicated ourselves to getting the fuel provides, in contrast to different European nations now we have not diversified our fuel provides and now we have dragged our ft on the power transition. So we did quite a lot of issues incorrect, and now we’re paying the worth,” Kemfert added.

It isn’t shocking, then, that Scholz has confused the necessity to preserve some ambiguity about sanctions to press Russia to deescalate and has to this point averted mentioning Nord Stream 2 particularly.

“The hesitancy of Olaf Scholz clearly results in the truth that one does not likely know what the Germans truly need,” Ziener mentioned. “With regard to Nord Stream 2, I believe there ought to have been a transparent assertion that if it involves a navy intervention, then Nord Stream 2 is off the desk.”

Requested on Friday whether or not Scholz shall be taking any new initiative to Kyiv and Moscow or the positions which can be already on the desk, his spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, replied that he’ll persist with “the positions that now we have already set out.”

Scholz can solely hope that in his talks with Putin he can dissuade him from taking navy motion with a face-saving answer, says Ziener.

“He can truly solely hope that on the finish of this entire spherical of negotiations there shall be successful, that the struggle is prevented. Then Scholz shall be praised for his negotiating expertise,” Ziener added. “If not, the query shall be requested: What was truly the road of the German authorities?”

Geir Moulson and Kerstin Sopke contributed reporting from Berlin.

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