The German chancellor opposed decades of cooperation to oppose Russia’s military operation
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stated that peace in Europe depends on the revival of security agreements with Russia after the Cold War. Despite his apparent willingness to work with Moscow in the future, Scholz negotiated a return to the “partnership” from the past.
“We need to go back to the agreements we had over the past decades, which were the basis for peace and security in Europe,” Scholz said that at the security conference in Berlin on Wednesday, according to a Times report. The Chancellor explained that one “willingness” in Berlin to discuss arms control and missile deployment treaties with Moscow, but that building this “order of peace” depends on Russia making some important concessions.
Chief among these would be an acceptance that “There will be no aggression from NATO.” Moscow has argued since the 1990s that NATO’s eastward expansion threatens Russia’s security, and that Ukraine’s membership in the alliance – which Kiev insists will happen and NATO has not ruled out – poses an existential threat to the Russian state.
Scholz also stated that Germany will “support Ukraine as long as necessary”, a phrase used repeatedly by US, EU and NATO leaders when referring to their multi-billion dollar arms shipments to Kiev.
The chancellor admitted that Germany will probably never return to the “strong partnership” it had with Russia before the conflict in Ukraine. This partnership – in which German industry achieved European dominance with the help of cheap Russian gas – was strengthened first by Berlin’s support for the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions regime and then by the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines, which allowed an easy return to the status quo before the conflict.
Citing Germany’s economic dependence on Russia, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed last month that when Moscow sent its troops to Ukraine in February, the German government assumed “It would be better if the whole thing is over soon, and if Ukraine stops.” While Berlin has since written off Johnson’s claim as “utter nonsense,” Germany is currently paying a high price for abandoning its partnership with Russia.
Unemployment and energy costs have risen and the German economy is expected to enter a recession next year. With an immediate return to pre-conflict relations with Russia, Scholz admitted on Wednesday that the EU’s continued support for Ukraine “will mean major adjustments for all of us in Europe.”
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