Scholz travels to the USA

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Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz is making his inaugural visit to the USA. © Kay Nietfeld/dpa-Pool/dpa

On Sunday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz will fly to Washington for an inaugural visit to US President Joe Biden – in the midst of the Ukraine conflict. Some are already questioning Germany’s loyalty to the alliance. Scholz has to explain himself.

Berlin/Washington/Moscow – Shortly before the inaugural visit of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in Washington, calls for a correction of the German stance against arms deliveries to Ukraine are getting louder.

In view of the ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukraine itself submitted a list of weapon requests to the federal government. Republican US Senator Jim Risch called on Germany to review its course. As part of the announced reinforcement of troops in Europe, the first additional American soldiers landed in Poland on Saturday. Russia sent fighter jets to neighboring Belarus for a maneuver.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict continued. Parallel to the Scholz appointment with US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron is on Monday with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Macron, along with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, stressed after a phone call on Saturday that NATO must remain united in the face of “Russian aggression”. Scholz is then expected in the Kremlin the following week and also in Ukraine.

In the West, reports of the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers in the border area with Ukraine are fearing that the Kremlin is planning an invasion of the neighboring country. Moscow denies that. It is also considered possible that the Russian side wants to stir up fears in order to persuade NATO to make concessions on demands for new security guarantees.

According to Polish information, the first smaller group of other US soldiers landed on Saturday at the airport in Jasionka near Rzeszow. The main contingent is expected on Sunday. A total of 1,700 soldiers are to be sent from the United States to the NATO partner country, and another 300 to Germany. In turn, 1,000 US soldiers are to be transferred from Germany to Romania. Biden had announced the increase to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank.

A few days before the start of a controversial military maneuver, Russia deployed Sukhoi Su-25SM fighter jets to military airfields in the Brest region near the Polish border. The ministry did not provide any information on the exact number. Belarus and Russia emphasize that the transfer is purely for practice. The maneuver is scheduled to begin on February 10.

In view of the tensions, the Kremlin warned against false reports and scaremongering in Western media. A US medium had previously reported the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine – according to their own statements by mistake. This shows once again how tense and dangerous the situation is, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian state agency TASS. The tensions are “provoked by the daily aggressive messages we hear from Washington, from the European capitals, from London”.

According to information from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, Ukraine is asking the federal government in its letter to the foreign and defense ministries for medium-range anti-aircraft missile systems, portable anti-aircraft missile systems, anti-drone guns, microwave destruction systems, electronic positioning systems, night vision devices, surveillance cameras and ammunition . It is emphasized that these are “weapons systems of a defensive nature”. The federal government rejects such deliveries.

US Senator Risch told the German Press Agency in Washington: “While I’m aware of Germany’s long-standing policy on arms deliveries, the situation in Ukraine, and the NATO allies are unanimous on this, is so unique that Germany should reconsider its stance.” The SPD member of the Bundestag, Axel Schäfer, said: “We refuse any instruction from a party that justifies the storming of the Capitol as a democratic action.”

The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen called Risch’s position justifiable. “But there are also good arguments for the German position,” he told the dpa. Germany supports Ukraine more financially, economically and in state building than any other country. “German arms deliveries would come at the price of destroying opportunities for talks with Moscow that others don’t have. Some want that, but nobody would be served by that.” dpa

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