“Hope to prevent war”: Scholz defends Putin’s visit shortly before the start of the war

“Hope to Prevent War”
Scholz defends Putin’s visit shortly before the start of the war

Scholz met Putin for almost four hours in February – for good reason, the Chancellor now explains. In the Kremlin, however, he finds himself in a bizarre situation, with Putin even hinting at an attack on Ukraine, at least indirectly. The impressions of his later visit to the attacked country will not let go of Scholz either.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended his visit to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in February as an attempt to avert an attack on Ukraine: “I had every hope that it was still possible to prevent this senseless and brutal war,” Scholz said “Star” in a look back at his first year as chancellor. “It turned out differently.”

The SPD politician described details of his almost four-hour meeting with Putin. “It was important because it gave me the opportunity to talk about all the pretexts that Putin is now using to justify this war – and to refute them.” He asked the Russian President: “Is it possible that when I take off, the Russian fighter jets will take off behind me towards Ukraine?” Putin did not answer no. “I still remember that to this day,” said Scholz.

Scholz said of the photo, which shows the two at opposite ends of an extremely long table in the Kremlin: “The conversation with Putin at this insanely long table was a bizarre situation,” said Scholz. “We were alone in the room. There were microphones on either side of the table and headphones for translation, which I certainly need.” According to Scholz, it could have been a shorter table. “But I would have had to have myself tested against Corona by Russian doctors in advance. But we don’t do that. We don’t ask our visitors to do that either,” said the Chancellor.

Escaping families shot dead in car

Scholz was shocked by his visit to Ukraine four months later. On June 16 he traveled to Irpin near Kyiv. “The extent of the destruction and the brutality with which the Russian soldiers acted could be seen very directly there,” Scholz told “Stern”. “We saw cars in which fleeing families were sitting, who were simply shot.” That was “very depressing”, said Scholz. “I’ll definitely never forget that.”

Scholz found the brutality in Ukraine “very depressing”.

(Photo: picture alliance/dpa)

The Chancellor described his cooperation with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as “good”. He has spoken to Zelenskyy 18 times since the beginning of the war. “The conversations are never short and always friendly,” said Scholz. With a view to arms deliveries, the chancellor defended his policy: “I have broken with a tradition that has applied in Germany for many decades – namely: not to deliver arms to crisis or war zones.” Germany is now one of the countries that support Ukraine “politically, financially and humanitarianly and also with weapons,” said Scholz. “There is a lot of thanks and praise from Ukraine for our support.”

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