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"This is about Ukraine. Only their president, parliament, and citizens can conclude an agreement" with Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.
In an interview with the liberal Hamburg weekly magazine Stern, the diplomat said that Germany's moves will always be in line with its allies, noting that although the country has provided advice and support to Ukraine, it will not decide on Kiev's fate.
Scholz said that Kiev will decide for Berlin and maybe also for Brussels and Washington regarding the EU embargo against Russia, adding that "we will only be able and willing to withdraw our sanctions in agreement with Ukraine. I don’t think many people in the Kremlin have grasped that yet. This has devastating consequences for Russia."
According to the German Chancellor, Ukraine is "able to maintain its resistance to Russia for much longer than Russian President Vladimir Putin had calculated" due to Western support for Kiev. He also said that to prevent "a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia," Germany and other countries have been walking a tightrope of supporting Ukraine.
In this vein, Scholz went on to say that the West's goals in relation to the conflict in Ukraine have been "to save lives, end the war, rebuild Ukraine and guarantee its sovereignty." He also agreed with the interviewer, who rephrased it as "Russia must not win, Ukraine must not lose."
Volodymyr Zelensky a invité à Kiev le chancelier allemand Olaf Scholz ainsi que le président Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a-t-on appris aujourd'hui auprès de la présidence allemande #AFPpic.twitter.com/XLYyA1ZTFx
The German Presidency said that Volodymyr Zelensky had invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Kiev.
Scholz made the remarks amid a diplomatic dispute between Germany and Ukraine, following Kiev's snub of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The president did not visit Ukraine in mid-April as planned, claiming that he was "not wanted" in Kiev. German tabloids quoted unidentified Ukrainian officials that the German president was too close to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday invited both Scholz and Steinmeier to visit Kiev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a special military operation in Ukraine last February 24 following Kiev's failure to meet the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
Moscow has repeatedly said that the operation was aimed at demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine and has also demanded Kiev's neutrality in order not to become a member of NATO. It has condemned as well the continued support of Western countries and their allies around the world in helping Ukraine wage war against Russia.