The German and Russian leaders have met in Moscow with Ukraine high on the agenda. Both Scholz and Putin expressed willingness to continue addressing European security issues through dialogue.
Olaf Scholz made his inaugural visit as German chancellor to Moscow on Tuesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the ongoing crisis at the Russian-Ukrainian border dominating the agenda.
Scholz arrived in Moscow after a trip to Kyiv on Monday, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to strengthen Berlin’s support in the face of Russian aggression.
“The most important thing is that we manage relations between countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . through good discussions with each other,” Scholz said as he met Putin, adding he was glad the two leaders were able to meet face to face.
In a joint press conference after meeting, the chancellor said “it is our absolute duty as heads of government that Europe does not see an escalation into war.”
Scholz added that high-level dialogue between Russian and Germany’s European partners is essential to achieving stability moving forward.
“We are ready to work further together. We are ready to go down the negotiations track,” Putin told the press conference.
Putin added that Germany “is one of Russia’s most important partners” and said it intended to cooperate further with Berlin. He emphasized the role of economic ties between the two, with Germany being Russia’s second-biggest trade partner after China.
What did Olaf Scholz say about Ukraine?
Scholz said the build-up of troops at the Ukrainian border “can be seen as a threat.” However, “we now hear that more troops are being withdrawn that is a positive signal and we hope more will follow,” he added.
“For Europeans, it is clear that lasting security cannot be achieved against Russia but only with Russia,” he told reporters.
The chancellor added that the “inviolability of borders … is not to be negotiated,” referring to Ukraine.
“Dialogue cannot end in a cul de sac, that would be a disaster for everyone,” he added, “it is important to go the road of diplomacy so as to avoid war in Europe.”