Germany’s Scholz denounces ‘bidding war’ over jets for Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News
The chancellor’s comments follow repeated requests from Ukrainian politicians for fighter jets after battle tanks were pledged for the war against Russia.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz again opposed German and Ukrainian officials’ demands for fighter jets to fend off a Russian invasion, urging Western countries not to join a “trade war” for modern weapons.
Germany announced last week that it would supply its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine after weeks of pressure from NATO and European Union allies.
“The fact that we just made a decision [on sending tanks] and the next debate [fighter jets] flares up in Germany – it just seems frivolous and undermines people’s trust in government decisions,” Scholz said in an interview with the German newspaper Tagesspiegel on Sunday.
“I can only advise against getting into a trade war over weapons systems.”
Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk demanded dozens of Tornado combat aircraft from Germany and called on the international community to join a “fighter coalition” for his country.
I have a creative proposal for our German friends. The Bundeswehr has 93 Tornado multirole combat aircraft, which will soon be retired and replaced by the F-35.
Although it is an old jet fighter, it is still very powerful. Why not put these Tornadoes in Ukraine @Chancellor? pic.twitter.com/KxTZdUQLAS
— Andrey Melnik (@MelnykAndrij) January 15, 2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his daily address on Saturday, again asked Western countries to provide his country with more advanced weapons systems. Zelensky specifically mentioned the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
“There can be no taboo on the supply of weapons to protect against Russian terror,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Last week, Russia condemned the delivery of NATO battle tanks to Ukraine, calling it “direct and growing” evidence of US and European involvement in the war.
“Keep talking” with Putin
The German leader also said he would continue to call Russian President Vladimir Putin, emphasizing the importance of maintaining an open channel of communication in order to end Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Scholz said the tone of the conversations was not “impolite, but our views are, of course, quite different.”
“And I will keep calling Putin — because we have to keep talking to each other,” he said.
The last phone call to Putin was in early December. Then the Russian leader called the line of Germany and the West towards Ukraine “destructive” and called on Berlin to reconsider its approach.
The conversations, according to Scholz, often focused on “specific issues” such as the exchange of prisoners, the export of Ukrainian grain, and the fate of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.
“It is important for me that the conversations constantly return to the main thing: how can the world get out of this terrible situation? The condition for this is clear: the withdrawal of Russian troops,” Scholz said in an interview.
Scholz also warned that NATO should not be drawn into a war with Moscow.
“The German Chancellor, who takes his oath seriously, must do everything so that Russia’s war against Ukraine does not turn into a war between Russia and NATO,” he stressed, adding that he “will not allow such an escalation.”
The announcement of the Leopard 2 tanks, which was soon followed by a US promise to hand over M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv, infuriated the Kremlin.
“There are no agreed negotiations yet [with Scholz] in the schedule. Putin was and remains open for contacts, ”RIA Novosti quotes Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany is the second largest supplier of military equipment to Ukraine after the US, ahead of other European powers such as France and the UK.