Emmanuel Thomas, DPA, Friday, May 26, 2023
BERLIN – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned President Vladimir Putin against creating a frozen conflict along the borders of the Ukrainian territories seized by Russia, in remarks published in the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper.
“Russia has to understand that the aim cannot be to conclude a kind of cold peace, by turning the current frontier into a new ‘border’ between Russia and Ukraine,” Scholz said. “That would merely legitimate Putin’s raid.”
“The aim rather is a fair peace, and a precondition for that is the withdrawal of Russian troops,” Scholz said.
Scholz would not be drawn on the future of the Crimean Peninsula, occupied by Russia in 2014.
Asked whether his condition applied to Crimea, he repeated what he had said: “The withdrawal of troops. It is not our business to formulate on behalf of Ukraine the agreements that they wish to reach.”
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and has since occupied and illegally annexed a series of Ukrainian territories. Moscow also annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
Scholz took care to refer to “withdrawal of troops” and not “withdrawal of the troops,” which would suggest that all the troops would have to be withdrawn.
The chancellor also evaded the issue of whether Putin should be ousted. “I think little of speculative questions of this kind. In the end, there will be an agreement between the governments in Moscow and Kiev,” he said.
Scholz also said that while his last conversation with Putin had been some time ago, he intended to speak to the Russian leader again in due course.