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Scholz: 'more arms for Ukraine' after Berlin trilateral meet

March 15, 2024

The leaders of Germany, France and Poland met in Berlin to discuss ways on working together provide Ukraine with military support, while being careful to avoid antagonizing Moscow.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk join hands
The leaders of France, Germany and Poland agreed on prioritizing Ukraine's defenseImage: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to Berlin for a summit of the so-called "Weimar Triangle."

The trio, seeking to repair relations that became strained under Poland's previously nationalist government, primarily discussed military support for Ukraine.

Speaking after Friday's Chancellery meeting, Scholz said, "We will begin acquiring more arms for Ukraine immediately."

Those arms will be purchased on the global arms market, he added. 

However, the chancellor added that "we will increase military arms production capacity — also in cooperation with our partners on the ground in Ukraine."

Scholz also noted that a new coalition aimed at providing long-distance artillery rockets will be set up within the so-called Ramstein Format, a 40-plus-member group of allies — both NATO and non-NATO, and from across Europe, North America and Africa.

It was also announced that the EU will be expanding financial as well as training assistance. 

Moreover, said Scholz, "We will use windfall profits from Russian assets frozen in Europe to provide financial assistance to Ukraine as well as to purchase further arms."

Scholz: Germany, France, Poland to boost support for Ukraine

Western partners seek unity as Ukraine asks for more arms 

Ukraine's military wants more help and supplies from Western members as it struggles to stave off Russia's bigger and better-provisioned army.

However, Kyiv's forces have recently struggled to defend territory and the EU's plans to make a million artillery rounds for Ukraine have fallen well short.

Tensions have escalated between France and Germany's leaders after Macron refused to rule out deploying troops to Ukraine, a step Scholz said neither Germany nor NATO would take.

Scholz and Macron have adopted different strategies when it comes to Ukraine, with the French leader being far more hawkish than Scholz.

Scholz's supporters have called him a "peace chancellor" who aims to avoid an escalation toward war with Russia and NATO members.

"We must do everything we can to organize as much support as possible for Ukraine," Scholz said on Wednesday as he highlighted the "very practical question of whether there is enough ammunition, whether there is enough artillery, whether there is enough air defense — many things that play a major role."

EU struggling with Ukraine ammunition pledge

Macron says 'We must remain unified'

Scholz sought to downplay differences with Macron ahead of the meeting. However, the French leader reiterated his position on ground forces Thursday before adding that the current situation did not require troops from outside Ukraine.

Though France has promised much, it is Germany that is now Ukraine's second-biggest supplier of military support after the United States, and Berlin is set to step up its contributions this year. 

Still, Scholz has faced criticism for refusing to send long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine.

Macron has described the threat posed in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as being "existential" to France and Europe.

On Friday, the French leader promised Ukraine's allies would do everything necessary to ensure "Russia cannot win this war."

At the same time, Macron sought to publicly quash Russian talking points suggesting EU countries are fueling the conflict with arms deliveries, saying of allies: "We are willing. We are determined. We have to stick together."

Christoph Gottschalk, senior advisor at the 365 Sherpas political consultancy, told DW that although holding the meeting was of great symbolic importance, it did not represent a "game changing" policy turning point.

However, he said Tusk inviting Scholz and Macron to Poland during the press conference so that the Weimar Triangle keeps on working was an important step.  

Gottschalk argued that the logic of European integration has shown that when a group of countries as diverse as Germany, France and Poland find compromise, it makes it easier for the rest of the countries in the bloc to follow.

 "If Europe has ever waited for a moment to come together, to be strong, and to send a confident message to Russia, it is really now," Gottschalk said.

Scholz, Tusk, Macron hold talks on Ukraine

js,rc/wmr (AFP, Reuters)

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