TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz flew to Kyiv, Monday, February 14, 2022, to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to show solidarity and help prevent war in Europe following fears of a Russian invasion.
The trip is part of a series of diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis through dialogue and threats of sanctions against Russia if it attacks Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Scholz will fly to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The chancellor, who took office in December, has stepped up his involvement in the Ukraine crisis over the past week after Germans questioned his role in one of Europe’s worst security crises.
“(This trip) is about how we can find a way to ensure peace in Europe,” Scholz told reporters on Sunday, saying the deployment of some 100,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border was a “very, very serious threat”.
Moscow denies plans to attack Ukraine, but says it can take unspecified “military technical” action unless a series of demands are met, including a pledge from NATO to never recognize Ukraine and withdraw troops from Eastern Europe.
A German government source said Scholz and Zelenskiy will gauge where they stand after last week’s “Format Normandy” talks between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, and how they can advance dialogue.
A moratorium on Ukraine’s eligibility to join NATO is not in Germany’s plans, the source said.
Ukraine can count on German solidarity, especially through financial aid to help stabilize its economy, Scholz said on Sunday.
Ukrainian officials have publicly criticized Germany for refusing to sell arms to Kyiv – Berlin argues it cannot because of its bloody 20th century history – and for its reluctance to halt the controversial Russo-German gas pipeline project.
Ukraine as well as Western allies argue the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is under construction but is not yet operational, would allow Russia to cut Ukraine off Europe’s energy supply and make it more vulnerable to a Russian invasion.
In recent weeks, Scholz has hardened his rhetoric about the costs to Russia from any new incursions into Ukraine. But he never mentioned ending Nord Stream 2.