Russia and Germany: Putin and Scholz in productive meeting over Ukraine
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany held a productive meeting. Scholz – after recent visits to America, Ukraine, and the Russian Federation – showed great statecraft. He achieved this despite the difficult situation concerning Ukraine. Therefore, Scholz refused to be pushed into a corner despite the demands expressed by America and Ukraine.
Putin – unlike the administration of President Joe Biden in the United States – understands that many European nations share Germany’s nuanced approach to the Ukraine crisis. Hence, nations including Greece, Hungary, Italy, and Spain – and others – all welcomed the approach taken by Putin and Scholz during their meeting in the Russian Federation.
TASS News reports, “The first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders since Scholz took office lasted slightly over three hours and received high marks from both of them: the Russian president noted its business-like atmosphere, while the German chancellor – that not a single subject was omitted. TASS gathered key statements following the talks.”
Scholz diligently said to Putin, “The most important thing is that we manage relations between countries through good discussions with each other.”
Putin reciprocated, “We are ready to work further together. We are ready to go down the negotiations track.”
Putin notified Scholz of the need for other nations to understand the geopolitical concerns of the Russian Federation. This concerns endless NATO expansion and the genuine fears of Russians and others who fear Ukrainian nationalism and military attacks in the Donbas region. Therefore, Putin seeks to guarantee the safety of the Russian Federation from hostile forces – along with helping Russians – and Russian speakers from different ethnic groups – who are suffering in the Donbas region.
Putin told Scholz, “This is precisely why we put forward the proposals on the negotiating process that must result in an agreement on ensuring equal security for all states, including our country.”
Putin continued – concerning the Minsk Accords, “We are really hoping that both our partners overseas and in Europe, above all, Germany and France, will exert appropriate influence over the current Kiev authorities.”
Scholz said, “For Europeans, it is clear that lasting security cannot be achieved against Russia but only with Russia.”
Concerning NATO expansion, Putin said, “countries have the right to join military alliances as our colleagues in NATO always maintain, but it is also important to maintain one’s security not at the cost of the security of other countries.”
Modern Tokyo Times said (before the Putin and Scholz meeting), “The political and military elites in the Russian Federation expect little from America or the United Kingdom apart from taking military and propaganda postures. Hence, the meeting between Germany and the Russian Federation is important – similar to the meeting between the Russian Federation and France when Putin and Macron met. Therefore, despite differences between France and Germany with the Russian Federation over the Ukraine crisis, Macron and Scholz seek a way that considers the concerns of the Russian Federation while addressing the concerns of Ukraine.”
The late Stephen F. Cohen (1938-2020) – concerning the crisis between the Russian Federation and Ukraine – said (2019), “The short but essential answer is Washington’s decision, taken by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, to expand NATO eastward from Germany and eventually to Ukraine itself. Ever since, both Democrats and Republicans have insisted that Ukraine is a “vital US national interest.” Those of us who opposed that folly warned it would lead to dangerous conflicts with Moscow, conceivably even war. Imagine Washington’s reaction, we pointed out, if Russian military bases began to appear on Canada’s or Mexico’s borders with America. We were not wrong: An estimated 13,000 souls have already died in the Ukrainian-Russian war in the Donbas and some 2 million people have been displaced.”
The fear is that Ukraine might increase its military prowess against forces in the Donbas region because several powerful European nations refuse to take the aggressive approach of America, the United Kingdom, the Baltic states, and a few others. Therefore, it is hoped that the momentum built up between France, Germany, and the Russian Federation will continue.
However, the fear remains that a trigger could set the crisis on a knife-edge. Hence, it is important for “mutual guarantees” to be enacted that serve the interest of all vested parties – even if Ukraine and anti-Russian Federation forces need to swallow “a bitter non-confrontational approach.”
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