The chancellor’s comments followed repeated requests by Ukrainian politicians for fighter jets after battle tanks were promised for the war against Russia.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz again objected to demands by German and Ukrainian officials for fighter jets to repel a Russian invasion, urging Western countries not to join a “bidding war” for sophisticated weapons.
Last week, Germany announced that it would deliver its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine after weeks of pressure from NATO allies and the European Union.
“The fact that we have just made a decision [on sending tanks] and already the next discussion [fighter jets] shooting in Germany – it just looks frivolous and undermines people’s trust in government decisions,” Scholz said in an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel on Sunday.
“I can only advise against entering into a bidding war over weapons systems.”
Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk pressed Germany for dozens of Tornado fighter jets and called on the international community to join a “fighter coalition” for his country.
I have a creative proposal for our German friends. The Bundeswehr has 93 Tornado multirole fighter jets that will soon be retired and replaced by the F-35.
Although it is an old hunter, but it is still very powerful. Why not deliver these Tornados to Ukraine @Chancellor? pic.twitter.com/KxTZdUQLAS
— Andrij Melnyk (@MelnykAndrij) January 15, 2023
In his daily address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again asked Western nations to provide his country with more advanced weapons systems. Zelenskyy specifically mentioned the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
“There can be no taboo in supplying weapons to protect against Russian terror,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Russia last week condemned the delivery of NATO battle tanks to Ukraine, calling it “direct and growing” evidence of United States and European involvement in the war.
‘Keep talking’ to Putin
The German leader also said he would continue to phone Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressing the importance of keeping an open channel of communication to find an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Scholz said that the tone of the conversation was “not rude, but that our perspectives are of course completely different.”
“And I will continue to phone Putin – because we need to continue to talk to each other,” he said.
The last phone call to Putin was in early December. At the time, the Russian leader said that the direction of Germany and the West towards Ukraine was “destructive” and called on Berlin to reconsider its approach.
The talks, Scholz said, were often about “concrete issues” such as prisoner exchanges, Ukraine’s grain exports and the fate of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“For me, it’s important that the conversations keep coming back to the main point: How does the world get out of this terrible situation? The condition for this is clear: the withdrawal of Russian troops,” Scholz said in an interview.
Scholz also warned that NATO should not be dragged into a war with Moscow.
“The German chancellor, who takes his oath seriously, must do everything to ensure that Russia’s war against Ukraine does not turn into a war between Russia and NATO,” he stressed, adding that he would not “allow such an escalation.”
The announcement of the Leopard 2, followed not long after by the US promise of M1 Abrams tanks to Kiev, enraged the Kremlin.
“For now, there are no agreed talks [with Scholz] in the schedule. Putin was and remains open to contacts,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, as reported by RIA Novosti.
Germany is the second largest donor of military equipment to Ukraine after the USA, according to the Institute for the World Economy from Kiel, ahead of other European powers such as France and Britain.