Scholz urges China to talk to Ukraine, not deliver weapons to Russia

Scholz urges China to talk to Ukraine, not deliver weapons to Russia
Опубликовано: Thursday, 02 March 2023 21:06

German chancellor issues warning to Beijing ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden on Friday.

Olaf Scholz on Thursday chided China for not condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, while also urging Beijing to discuss its ideas for peace directly with Ukraine and to refrain from delivering weapons to Russia.

Speaking to the Bundestag shortly before embarking on a trip to Washington, the German chancellor said that “it is disappointing” that at a meeting of finance ministers of the G20 group last week in India, “China was no longer willing to reaffirm what was still the consensus” at a summit of G20 leaders late last year in Indonesia — “a clear condemnation of the Russian attack.”

On the one hand, Scholz praised China’s “unequivocal” opposition to Russian nuclear threats, saying that “has helped de-escalate the situation.” He also lauded that a 12-point peace plan Beijing presented last week repeated this “clear message” against the use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction.

On the other hand, Scholz criticized China for not discussing its peace proposals with Ukraine, the victim of the aggression.

“One can rightly expect China to discuss its ideas with the main affected party — the Ukrainians and President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy,” the chancellor said, while adding: “My message to Beijing is clear: use your influence in Moscow to press for the withdrawal of Russian troops.”

Scholz’s comments reflect general disappointment and criticism from Western politicians in reaction to China’s 892-word “position paper” with a view to settling what Beijing calls the “Ukraine crisis,” without referring to it as a war. China’s 12-point peace plan is seen as favoring Russia’s position too much without taking Ukraine’s interests, such as the restoration of its territorial integrity, sufficiently into account.

China’s intentions to foster a fair peace have been further put into doubt by reports that Beijing is allegedly considering supplying Russia with weapons such as kamikaze drones. This has triggered various warnings from Western officials toward China not to do this, echoed by Scholz on Thursday. “Do not supply weapons to the aggressor Russia,” the chancellor told China during his speech in front of German lawmakers.

Scholz’s speech came in the form of a government declaration one year after the chancellor, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had declared the Zeitenwende sea change in German foreign and security policy. The chancellor spoke just hours before flying to the U.S. to meet President Joe Biden on Friday for discussions on the war in Ukraine.

The U.S. is reportedly consulting with close allies on whether to jointly impose sanctions on Beijing if China supplies weapons to Russia — a potential measure that would particularly put Germany in a tight spot as it depends strongly on trade with China. The U.S. call for such potential sanctions will likely play a key role at Friday’s meeting between Biden and Scholz.

Referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Scholz said that “a fair, long-lasting peace” must be in line with international law and thus respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

A “dictated peace” was unacceptable, the chancellor said. “What a fatal encouragement to the aggressor it would be if the breach of international law and the European peace order were rewarded,” he said. This must not only be avoided “for moral reasons,” but also “if we have the well-being of our own country and the security of Europe and the world in mind,” he added.

Scholz also said that there was no indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to enter into serious peace negotiations. He remarked that the Russian leader was instead issuing “threatening gestures” toward Ukraine and the West.

“With a gun to the temple, there is no negotiating — except for one’s own submission,” Scholz said.

The chancellor vowed to continue military support for Ukraine, stressing that Russia won’t achieve a military victory.

“Putin is miscalculating if he thinks time is playing for him,” Scholz said, while saying that on top of recently announced deliveries of Leopard main battle tanks, Germany would also send further Gepard air defense tanks and an additional IRIS-T anti-missile system to Ukraine.

Referring to the anniversary of his Zeitenwende policy shift, Scholz said that his promise to raise German defense spending to 2 percent of the country’s economic output was still standing, although Germany is on track to miss the 2 percent goal this year and next.

Scholz announced that the necessary decisions for procuring replacements for the tanks, howitzers and ammunition that Germany has supplied to Ukraine “will be finalized in the coming months.”

He also said that Germany would contribute 30,000 soldiers to a new force structure of the NATO military alliance as of 2025.

“We are doing all this in view of our increased responsibility and the higher expectations that our allies rightly place on Germany as the most populous and economically powerful country in Europe,” the chancellor said.

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