Berlin intends to “re-engage” with Putin “at the appropriate time”… and Moscow finds it necessary
German Chancellor Olaf Schultz announced Friday that he is ready to “re-communicate” with Russian President Vladimir Putin “at the appropriate time”, in light of the rupture of relations between them since December, while Moscow welcomed the initiative.
“My last phone call (with him) was a long time ago, but I intend to talk to Putin again at the appropriate time,” Schulz said in an interview published by the newspaper “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” on Friday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded, saying the Russian president was ready for a new phone conversation with the German chancellor about the war in Ukraine. Peskov stated that Schultz did not call, and Berlin has not initiated a similar conversation so far, adding: “It is necessary that we talk.” He continued, “President Putin is still open to dialogue, but of course it is aimed at the fundamental goal of protecting the interests of our citizens.”
According to the Kremlin, Putin and Schultz last spoke by phone for about an hour on December 2, 2022, during a call initiated by Berlin, to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the consequences of the war.
“Ultimately, there will have to be an agreement between the governments of Moscow and Kiev,” Schultz previously told the newspaper, in comments about the war published by the Kremlin last year.
Schultz said that his last phone call with the head of the Russian presidential office was a long time ago, “but I intend to talk to Putin again at the right time.”
His remarks drew attention, as opinions differ on the rationale of talks with Putin now. But Schultz warned Russia, in the interview, against freezing the war against Ukraine along the lands it has occupied so far. Today (Friday), Schultz said, “Russia must understand that it cannot be about concluding some kind of cold peace, by turning the current front line into a new (border) between Russia and Ukraine. This will only legitimize Putin’s theft… It’s more about a just peace, and the precondition for that is the withdrawal of Russian forces.”
The Chancellor left the question as to whether this also applies, or not, to the Crimea peninsula, which Russia has occupied since 2014, open, as he only confirmed during the response to this question, saying: “The withdrawal of forces. It is not our business to formulate for Ukraine the agreements it wants to conclude.” Schultz used the more ambiguous phrase “troops withdrawal” rather than “troops withdrawal,” which might mean: all forces.
Schultz also evaded the question of whether Putin should be overthrown. “I don’t really appreciate such speculative questions,” he said. In the end there must be an agreement between the two governments in Moscow and Kiev.
The German chancellor went to Estonia today (Friday) to meet the heads of government of the three Baltic countries, which also include Latvia and Lithuania, all bordering Russia. In comparison to their economic strength, the three Baltic states are among the strongest supporters of Ukraine, which Russia is attacking.
The talks centered in the capital, Tallinn, on providing more support to Ukraine and the military reinforcement of the eastern wing of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to protect it from Russian threats.
Schultz had promised during a visit to Lithuania a year ago, to create a German brigade of combat forces comprising between 3 thousand and 5 thousand soldiers to protect the country. However, it remains unclear if all the soldiers will be stationed on Lithuanian soil and how quickly that is supposed to be done.
The German government has asked the Chinese envoy, Li Hui, to “put pressure” on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said on Friday. State Minister Andreas Michaelis received the Chinese envoy, who is on a week-long European tour, during which he will stop on Friday, in Moscow. “The talk about the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine was the focus of this intensive meeting,” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christian Wagner said during a press conference.
He added, “China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, bears a special responsibility to play a constructive role in the interest of peace and security in the world,” reminding that Berlin “will support Ukraine as long as necessary.” “Germany has also asked China to put pressure on Russia to immediately stop its offensive and withdraw completely from Ukraine,” he added, according to the AFP report. And he considered that China should “use its influence with Russia to put an end to its irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and prevent any escalation.” Wagner also said, “The Minister of State expressed his hope that China would clearly name and condemn the Russian aggression and refrain from supporting it (by delivering) weapons.”
China’s envoy, Li Hui, who previously served as Beijing’s ambassador to Moscow, is on a tour of Europe a week ago, during which he spent two days in Kiev, one day in Poland, and visited France on Tuesday. Russia and China have close relations that have strengthened economically and diplomatically since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and the series of Western sanctions that hit the Russian economy. Beijing was careful not to condemn the Russian attack on the Ukrainians.
Moscow considered the Vatican’s initiative for peace in Ukraine positive. And the Russian Foreign Ministry announced today (Friday) that Moscow is aware of the Pope’s initiative to send an envoy to Russia to settle the Ukrainian crisis. “As far as we know, Pope Francis intends, as part of his initiative for peace in Ukraine, to send his envoys to Moscow and Kiev,” the ministry told Sputnik.
And Pope Francis announced, earlier, that the Vatican is carrying out a mission aimed at settling the conflict in Ukraine, indicating that it is “not yet public,” and it will be possible to talk about it later.
The Russian Foreign Ministry added that it evaluates the Vatican’s attempts positively, pointing out that Moscow notes the sincere desire to contribute to the peace process. And she continued, “But at the same time, the Vatican has not taken any practical steps in this regard.”