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Scholz: Ukraine won't accept Russian dictatorship

May 8, 2022

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he strongly believes Russia won't win its war in Ukraine. His remarks come as the conflict overshadows commemorations to mark the end of World War II in Europe.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the nation as Germany commemorates the end of World War II
Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the nation as Germany commemorates the end of World War IIImage: Britta Pedersen/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday warned that there can be "no peace under Russian dictatorship" in Ukraine during a speech to mark the 77th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

"Ukraine will not accept that, and neither will we," Scholz said, according to the text released by his office of the speech that aired on German TV.

The chancellor said he is "convinced" that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not win the conflict, which began on February 24.

"Ukraine will prevail. Freedom and security will win the day – just as freedom and security triumphed over oppression, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago," he added. 

Scholz also recalled how Russians and Ukrainians once fought together and made great sacrifices to defeat Germany's "murderous National Socialist regime."

But now, "Putin wants to overthrow Ukraine and destroy its culture and identity... [and] even regards his barbaric war of aggression as being on a par with the fight against National Socialism," Scholz said.

"That is a falsification of history and a disgraceful distortion. We have an obligation to state this clearly," the chancellor added. 

Scholz defends Germany's policies toward war in Ukraine

The chancellor also spoke in his speech of four clear principles at play in German foreign policy over the war:

Firstly, he said, Germany would not take unilateral action. "Whatever we do, we coordinate closely with our Alliance partners," he said. 

Secondly, Germany will work to maintain its own defense capability. "Thirdly, we will not do anything that could inflict more damage on ourselves and our partners than on Russia," Scholz added.

"And fourthly: we will not take any decision that makes NATO a party to the war. We stand by these principles."

But in reference to pressure on Germany to speed up the transition from Russian natural gas imports, Scholz said Berlin was "not simply doing all the things that some people are calling for."

"For in the oath I took upon assuming office, I swore to protect the German people from harm. That includes protecting our country and our allies from danger," he said. 

German president: War in Ukraine represents 'epochal turning point'

Earlier Sunday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke at the opening of the national convention of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) in Berlin to mark the occasion.

He said that May 8 had long been a "day of hope" as well as commemoration.

"But today, on this 8th of May, the dream of a common European house has failed and been replaced by a nightmare," Steinmeier said, referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "brutal, illegal war of aggression."

He said the war in Ukraine broke "with many things that seemed to us beyond question," calling it an "epochal turning point."

Russian President Vladimir Putin was "once and for all destroying the basis of the European blueprint for lasting peace that we created after the Second World War and the Cold War," Steinmeier said.

The German president also said one lesson to be learned from the current situation was that "the best price on world markets should not be the only thing to determine with whom one does business."

Germany has come under fire for its many decades of relying on cheap energy from Russia to power its economy, which critics say has helped fund Putin's war machinery.

Memorials held in Berlin

In Berlin, events on May 8 traditionally commemorate those who fought against Nazism in the German resistance and lost their lives in World War II.

To mark the anniversary, many people gathered at various memorial sites in Berlin on Sunday, notably the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park and the Soviet Memorial in the central Mitte district, where police were on hand to prevent potential clashes over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The police had previously imposed conditions on 15 memorial sites, including restrictions on Russian and Ukrainian flags. 

Police said at one point they rolled up a 25-meter Ukrainian flag that had been displayed by demonstrators, in order to keep the peace.

The measure was later condemned by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who described it as a "mistake."

"Berlin made a mistake by prohibiting Ukrainian symbols," Kuleba tweeted. "It's deeply false to treat them equally with Russian symbols.

"Taking a Ukrainian flag away from peaceful protestors is an attack on everyone who now defends Europe and Germany from Russian aggression with this flag in hands," he added.

German media reported on Saturday that domestic intelligence in Germany expected "car parades and demonstrations" on Monday in support of Russia and possibly of the invasion of Ukraine.

In Russia, May 9 marks Victory Day, a holiday that commemorates the Soviet army's victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

mm,tj/fb (dpa, AFP)