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Scholz says he is ready to talk with Putin

The Russian leader has previously told the German chancellor that Western support led Ukraine to reject any kind of engagement with Moscow

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has indicated that he is ready for fresh talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Ukraine conflict, while stressing his position that Moscow must make serious concessions to Kiev to convince it to come to the negotiating table.

Speaking to the German daily Heilbronner Stimme on Sunday, Scholz claimed that Russia’s campaign against Ukraine “is the return of imperialism in Europe,” saying that Berlin intends to support Kiev with arms and other forms of assistance “as long as necessary.”

However, he left the door open to diplomatic engagement with Russia, explaining that he had held discussions with Putin in the past and is ready to do so in the future. Nevertheless, “negotiations [with Ukraine] require a decisive step from Russia,” the chancellor said, urging Moscow to withdraw its troops from the territory Kiev claims as its own.

The last time Scholz and Putin spoke by phone was in December 2022. At the time, the Russian leader objected to “the destructive policy of Western countries to pump the Kiev regime with arms” and provide training to the Ukrainian military. This support led Ukraine to refuse any kind of talks with Russia, the Kremlin said.

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Meanwhile, the German leader signaled in June that he wanted to speak with Putin again; however, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov noted that the Russian leader had no such plans at the time.

Russia maintains that it is open to talks with Kiev. However, last autumn Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky banned negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow after four former Ukrainian regions overwhelmingly voted to join Russia.

Zelensky later floated his own peace formula, demanding that Russia withdraw all its troops from the territory claimed by Ukraine, as well as calling for a tribunal to prosecute Moscow for alleged war crimes. Russia rejected the proposal as unrealistic.

Scholz signaled he was ready to talk to Russia after Bild reported on Saturday that the German government had agreed to double the amount of military aid to Ukraine from €4 to 8 billion ($4.3 to 8.6 billion) in 2024. Russia has repeatedly warned the West against sending arms, arguing that this will only prolong the conflict and make it a direct participant in the hostilities.

 

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