Russian state TV shows Putin nervously biting his lip
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The German Chancellor has been the subject of intense criticism in recent days over his refusal to provide Ukraine with tanks and heavy weapons. Mr Scholz stressed he wishes to avoid any escalation that “would lead to a third world war”. Speaking to Der Spiegel, he said: “I said very early on that we must do everything possible to avoid a direct military confrontation between NATO and a highly armed superpower like Russia, a nuclear power.”
He added: “There must be no nuclear war.”
Germany, and Mr Scholz in particular, is facing a fierce political storm over the handling of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
He was recently revealed to have refused every item of heavy weaponry requested by Kyiv.
Wolfgang Münchau, a European political commentator, writing in a recent Spectator column titled, “Olaf Scholz is becoming Putin’s most valuable ally”, said Mr Scholz is “busy frustrating efforts” to help Ukraine, while “pretending to be outraged about Vladimir Putin’s aggression”.
German newspaper Bild leaked a list of weapons that Germany had reportedly agreed to pay for.
Mr Scholz claimed he would be delivering on his promise to help Ukraine, but the leaked list revealed he had crossed tanks and artillery off the list, slashing an aid package worth an initial €1billion (£836 million) to less than a third of that figure.
Mr Münchau wrote: “Ukraine has been asking for rocket launchers, as well as anti-ship and anti-tank missiles. They also asked for transport tanks.
“Scholz’s office denied all of these requests.”
Mr Münchau went on to argue that Mr Scholz is “pretending to support Ukraine”, citing the heavy weapons other countries including the UK, US and Australia have supplied.
He accused the German leader of playing a “double game” by denouncing Putin’s invasion, but refusing to cut ties with the Russian President.
He wrote: “He and his party to this day remain heavily invested in the bilateral relationship with Russia, which is arguably the most important strategic relationship in post-war Europe.
“It looks like the SPD has been betting on a Ukrainian capitulation following a short war.
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“The SPD was shocked by Putin’s invasion, but the party is clearly not ready to break with him.”
Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s Foreign Minister, claimed cutting the country’s Russian imports to zero would be impossible before the end of the year.
Phasing out gas imports, she said, would take much longer.
Yet Lithuania, a much poorer and more vulnerable country, has managed to do exactly that already.
Mr Münchau suggested the German Chancellor is in danger of becoming Putin’s “most valuable ally” if he continues on his current path.
Historian Timothy Synder told The Telegraph last week: “For thirty years, Germans lectured Ukrainians about fascism.
“When fascism actually arrived, Germans funded it, and Ukrainians died fighting it.”
Such is the apathy towards Germany that the country’s President was blocked from visiting Kyiv.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Mr Zelensky’s German counterpart, wished to follow Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen in visiting the Ukrainian capital, only to be told he was not welcome.
A Ukrainian diplomat told Bild: “We all know about Steinmeier’s close ties to Russia, which were also shaped by the Steinmeier formula. He is currently not welcome in Kyiv. We’ll see if that changes again.”
Norbert Roettgen, a Christian Democrat politician, has realised the devastating effects Mr Scholz’s policies could have.
He said last week: “I cannot recall when a German government has caused more foreign political damage than in the present situation, when the fate of Europe’s future is at stake.”
A Bundestag vote on arms supplies has been mooted for this week, and will prove the ultimate test as to whether Mr Scholz’s majority has turned against him.
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