By Hannah Wagner, Ulf Mauder and Veronika Eschbacher, dpa
KREMLIN – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since September about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin announced on Friday.
The Kremlin said that Putin complained during the call with Scholz of “the destructive line of Western states, including Germany, which are pumping weapons into the Kiev regime and training the Ukrainian military” and claimed that such Western support led Ukraine to not seek negotiations with Russia.
According to the Kremlin statement, Putin also called on Scholz to review German policy toward Ukraine, and defended Russia’s massive recent rocket attacks on Ukraine as a response to “Kiev’s provocations,” including a Ukrainian attack that severely damaged the Russian bridge to the annexed Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
Putin also called for international investigations into the “terrorist attack” on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea to include Russia.
Explosions tore holes in pipelines. Several Western governments suspect that Russia was behind the explosions. The Kremlin has ruled out withdrawing Russian troops from Ukraine in response to calls by US President Joe Biden to end the invasion.
“Of course the special military operation will continue,” Russian government spokesman Dmitry Petrov said on Friday, according to state news agency Interfax, using the Kremlin’s term for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“But at the same time, President [Vladimir] Putin was, is and remains open to contacts, to negotiations,” Peskov said.
Biden had previously stated that he would only be open to talks with Putin if Russia were ready to end the war against Ukraine. Germany is delivering several hundred power generators to Ukraine after the country’s energy infrastructure suffered massive damage in Russian missile attacks in recent weeks.
Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) has delivered almost 150 devices so far, with 320 more generators currently being prepared for transport, the THW announced on Friday.
Russia’s attacks on Ukraine have recently focused on electricity and thermal power plants, among other things. In freezing temperatures, many Ukrainian households are temporarily or even completely without heating, electricity and water.
Some of the brand-new equipment was sent directly to Ukrenergo, the largest Ukrainian energy provider, to stabilize the energy supply, THW announced. Ukrenergo was thus able to ensure a provisional power supply for important facilities.
Further generators are set to be transported to Odessa, Mykolaiv and the Kherson region. Some of the equipment is suitable for mounting on car trailers so that it can be used very flexibly.
THW is the federal government’s voluntary civil protection and disaster management organization. According to its own information, it has more than 80,000 volunteers in its ranks.