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Germany's Scholz urges China not to send Russia weapons

March 2, 2023

The chancellor addressed parliament one year after promising to upgrade Germany's armed forces with a massive one-off fund. In a speech to parliament, he called on China to push for Russia's withdrawal from Ukraine.

Olaf Scholz
Olaf Scholz gave a speech to parliament on the consequences of the war in UkraineImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday asked China not to support Russia with weapons in its war against Ukraine.

"My message to Beijing is clear: use your influence in Moscow to push for the withdrawal of Russian troops," Scholz said. "And do not supply weapons to the aggressor Russia." 

The chancellor said it was disappointing Beijing had refused to condemn Moscow for invading Ukraine, but he welcomed efforts to de-escalate the conflict.

Scholz: 'My message to Beijing is clear'

China has put forward a 12-point peace plan calling for a cease-fire. Referring to the proposal, Scholz said: "One can rightly expect China to discuss its ideas with the main stakeholders, with the Ukrainian people and with (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy."

Scholz delivered the comments in a speech to the German Parliament. The special address came one year after he announced a "Zeitenwende" (in English, "turning of the times") in the wake of Moscow's assault on its neighbor.

In that landmark address last year, Scholz pledged to provide the German military with €100 billion ($106 billion) to fund much-needed upgrades. 

What else did the chancellor say? 

Scholz started his speech on Thursday by stressing the importance of ongoing support for Ukraine. He made clear that there was no way for fr Kyiv to negotiate a peace deal with Russia because there was a "gun to their head."

The German chancellor said: "There will be no peace deal without the involvement of the Ukrainian people." 

He also stressed that courage was needed to create peace and that it was crucial that Russian President Vladimir "Putin's imperialism must not be allowed to prevail."

Scholz added that the international community had to take a clear stance, and announced that he would soon travel to Washington to strengthen cooperation with US President Joe Biden. 

The chancellor said that Germany was training the biggest amount of Ukrainian soldiers and thanked the Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces, for their services. 

"We are speaking with Kyiv and other partners over future security guarantees for Ukraine," Scholz said. "Such security guarantees however come with the presumption that Ukraine successfully defends itself in this war," he told lawmakers, adding that Germany would continue to support Kyiv with weapons supplies.

"The government I lead never takes decisions on arms deliveries lightly," Scholz said, stressing that it was important for the German military to receive the priorly announced budget. "We are putting an end to the neglect of our armed forces." 

Scholz guaranteed his commitment to meet NATO's 2% target, which he said would require an increase in defense expenditure in the German government's budget. 

The German chancellor also mentioned his government's efforts to create greater independence from Russia by securing alternative gas supplies. 

"We made it through winter, even without Russian gas supplies," Scholz said, adding that Germany was aiming to produce 80% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. 

How Germany relaxed cautious stance on Ukraine military aid

What has happened with Germany's military fund?

According to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the Bundestag defense committee and a member of the governing coalition's Free Democratic Party (FDP), the government has placed new orders of F-35 fighter jets and heavy transport helicopters from the United States and begun a new digitalization drive to modernize the forces.

For its part, the Defense Ministry says €30 billion of the €100 billion has already been earmarked for major purchases. There has been some criticism from European allies, and within Germany, that so many big orders have been placed in the United States, though ultimately most of the special fund is likely to stay in Germany, which has a strong weapons industry.

Many critics, however, say the government hasn't delivered enough. 

Boris Pistorius took office as Germany's new defense minister in January after his predecessor, Christine Lambrecht resigned, in part because of a wave of discontent with her leadership that leaked from within the army ranks.

The new minister has been pushing for more money: He has suggested that the special fund was not enough to cover the military's needs, and called for his ministry's budget to be increased by an extra €10 billion. 

German military gets big spending boost

los/nm (AFP, dpa)

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