Is Russia's President Putin still available for talks? Chancellor Scholz apparently harbors this hope. "We have completely different opinions," he says. But he wants to experience the moment "where it is possible to get out of the situation".
Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants to continue talking to the Russian President despite the sobering experience of the last phone call with Vladimir Putin. "We have completely different opinions," said the SPD politician in a question and answer session with citizens in his Potsdam constituency. "Nevertheless, I will continue to talk to him because I want to experience the moment when it is possible to get out of the situation. And that's not possible if you don't talk to each other."
Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Scholz has repeatedly telephoned Putin several weeks apart. The last conversation in early December was marked by mutual accusations. Scholz condemned the Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. Putin spoke of a "destructive line of western states, including Germany", which supported Kiev with weapons and trained its soldiers.
Scholz said in Potsdam that what was "really depressing" about the talks for him was that, despite the massive losses on the Russian side, Putin still wanted to conquer Ukrainian territory by force. It could be that 100,000 soldiers have already died on the Russian side. "That's quite a lot if you compare it to other wars."
Nevertheless, nothing substantial has changed in Putin's position. The Kremlin chief has already shown what he is capable of in other wars in Chechnya or Syria. "We've seen the brutality that the Russian president is capable of," said Scholz. But the chancellor also stressed that talks with Putin were always polite. "There's nobody yelling on the other side of the phone."
Scholz also visited Putin in February before the Russian attack on Ukraine in the Kremlin and spoke to him for four hours. "I had hope that it was still possible to prevent this senseless and brutal war," Scholz told Stern in a review of his first year as chancellor. "It turned out differently."