Scholz on his inaugural visit to the White House


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Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz is traveling to the USA for his inaugural visit. © Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Chancellor Scholz’s visit to the USA is intended to be the start of a diplomatic offensive in the Ukraine conflict. In Washington, Scholz should now emphasize that Germany is playing in “Team Nato”.

Washington – Against the background of the Ukraine conflict, Chancellor Olaf Scholz will be received by US President Joe Biden in Washington this Monday. Two months after being sworn in, it is the SPD politician’s inaugural visit as chancellor to the White House.

Before his departure for Washington, Scholz again strictly rejected German arms deliveries to Ukraine demanded by the government in Kiev in the ARD “Report from Berlin” on Sunday. At the same time, the chancellor tried to dispel doubts about Germany’s loyalty to the alliance. Scholz has been accused by some allies of not putting enough pressure on Russia in the Ukraine crisis.

Launch of a diplomatic offensive

Doubts have also been raised in the USA as to whether Germany, an important NATO partner, can be counted on in an emergency. The Chancellor’s visit is the start of a diplomatic offensive. A week later, Scholz wants to travel to Kiev and then to Moscow. Before that, a meeting with the heads of state and government of the Baltic States is planned in Berlin. In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Head of State Andrzej Duda want to come to Berlin to discuss the crisis.

With tens of thousands of Russian soldiers deployed near Ukraine, there are fears that the Kremlin is planning an invasion. 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.

While Scholz is meeting with Biden in Washington, Macron is traveling to Moscow on Monday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Macron and Putin had already had three crisis talks on the phone in the past few days. France currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Macron calls Biden and Scholz

Before his visit to the Kremlin, Macron coordinated with Scholz. The French President also spoke to Biden on the phone on Sunday. Among other things, Biden and Macron discussed “the ongoing diplomatic efforts and deterrent measures in response to Russia’s continued military buildup at Ukraine’s borders,” the White House said. According to the US government, another telephone call between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his French colleague Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday also focused on the Ukraine conflict.

Parallel to Scholz’s visit to Washington, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) will travel to Kiev on Monday for talks with the Ukrainian government. Shortly before that, Ukraine sent the Foreign Office and the Defense Ministry a list of weapon requests. Scholz was tough on the question on Sunday. “The federal government has had a clear policy for many years that we will not deliver to crisis areas and that we will not deliver lethal weapons to Ukraine,” he said. With a view to ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Scholz added: “My predecessor thought so, and that was correct. And that stays true.”

Role of Germany in NATO

When criticized that Germany was perceived as the weakest link in NATO in the Ukraine conflict, Scholz replied on ARD: “That is a wrong impression, which is not prevalent in Washington either, but which some express.” Coalition and opposition expect that Scholz will clear up irritations about the role of the Federal Republic in the western alliance during his visit to Washington.

“Olaf Scholz will ensure clarity: Germany is playing on the Europe team and on the NATO team,” said the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, Michael Roth (SPD), the editorial network Germany (RND). The CDU foreign expert Norbert Röttgen expected the clarification “that Germany is an active and reliable ally”. Röttgen told the RND: “In concrete terms, this means that Germany, together with the USA and the other partners, is ready for credible deterrence in the conflict with Russia.”

Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned on Sunday that Russia might soon escalate the situation. “We believe it is very likely that Vladimir Putin will order an attack on Ukraine,” Sullivan told ABC. Such an attack could take place “in various forms”. “It could happen tomorrow or it could take a few more weeks.” With the military demonstrations, Putin put himself in a position “to be able to take aggressive action against Ukraine at any time.”

leverage Nord Stream 2

Sullivan threatened Moscow with the end of the German-Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 in the event of an invasion of Ukraine. “If that happens, Nord Stream 2 will not be continued,” Sullivan told NBC. When asked whether Scholz would publicly promise such a measure during his visit, Sullivan said: “I will let the German chancellor speak for himself.” promised to end Nord Stream 2 in the event of an escalation.

Scholz only put Nord Stream 2 on the table as a possible sanctions instrument after a long hesitation – and only covertly, without naming the pipeline. Nord Stream 2 has been a dispute between Washington and Berlin for years. Critics fear that Germany is becoming dependent on Russia and that Putin could use energy as a weapon. The pipeline that will take Russian gas to Germany bypassing the Ukraine has been completed but is not yet operational. dpa


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