Germany's Scholz to visit Ukraine, Russia on Feb 14-15

By: AFP
Published: 07:32 PM, 4 Feb, 2022
Germany's Scholz to visit Ukraine, Russia on Feb 14-15
Caption: Germany's Scholz to visit Ukraine, Russia on Feb 14-15.
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will visit Kyiv and Moscow on February 14 and 15 to discuss the crisis on the Ukraine-Russia border, as tensions soar between Russia and the West.

It will be Scholz's first visit to both countries since he replaced Angela Merkel as chancellor in December, and comes amid criticism that he has kept a low profile so far in diplomatic efforts to avoid a war in Ukraine.

Scholz will first visit Kyiv before travelling on to Moscow the following day for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

"In addition to (discussing) bilateral relations, the focus will also be on international issues, including security issues," Scholz's spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters.

Scholz will also host talks in Berlin next Thursday with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to discuss the concerns of the ex-Soviet Baltic states in the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, raising fears of an invasion.

Russia denies it plans to invade but has demanded wide-ranging security guarantees from the West, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.

Scholz on Wednesday stressed the importance of a "coordinated policy with regard to the EU and NATO" on the crisis.

Asked about a possible war in Europe, he replied: "The situation is very serious, and you can't overlook the fact that a lot of soldiers and troops have been deployed on the Ukrainian border."

The chancellor defended Germany's refusal to send weapons to Ukraine and reiterated that Russia would pay a "very high price" in the event of an invasion.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin and Scholz will hold "substantial" bilateral talks when they meet face-to-face on February 15.

Scholz and Putin are also set to discuss the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, among a host of other controversial issues.

Germany has traditionally been seen as more open to dealing with Russia than some other Western countries, but there are some sources of tensions.

On Thursday, Russia said it was closing the Moscow bureau of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in response to Berlin's ban on the German-language channel of Russian state TV network RT. 

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.