Abroad|Correspondent ‘s comment
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is a Finnish-style filer, but on his own scale he showed determination in Moscow. The pressure just couldn’t have been tougher, writes Hanna Mahlamäki, HS’s Berlin correspondent.
German the Chancellor Olaf Scholzin first visit to Moscow by the President Vladimir Putin the guest could hardly have been more tense in advance.
Russia’s threat to Ukraine had intensified during the visit. But even without that, there was a lot of tension involved in the meeting.
Relations between Germany and Russia have intensified in recent years, even before the threat posed by Russia to Ukraine, including the Berlin park assassination, Alexei Navalny as a result of poisoning.
Thus, even without the historically serious threat of war, it would have been clear in advance that the new German Chancellor would be tested or provoked in the Kremlin. So it happened, Putin was faithful to his style.
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Russian a gas pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 2, is awaiting commissioning in the Baltic Sea. Until recently, Germany has taken the view that this is an economic project, the implementation of which is up to the authorities.
Now Scholz’s tone on it had changed. When asked by journalists about the commissioning of the gas pipeline, he reiterated an answer that had been given for weeks to a question about Russia’s military threat: An attack on Ukraine would have dire consequences. Any other reaction would have been quite a scandal.
Putin took the opportunity to provoke Scholz. He did so by praising the former Chancellor of the Demar League Gerhard Schröder, which has become a hanging stone for Scholz because of its connections with Russia. Putin described Nord Stream 2 as completely non-political.
It would be hard to imagine a more underlined difference in perspective, and the surface of the Scholz filed seemed to vibrate slightly.
Scholz has had to build a very different approach to Putin than he originally imagined. Back in December, he spoke of a “new Eastern policy” that raised suspicions about softening.
In Eastern politics, German demars long for an understanding between peoples to strengthen peace. Purchasing policy was not mentioned in Moscow now.
From his historical connections to the peoples, Scholz quickly moved on to Russia’s human rights abuses and the insanity of the threat of war. He showed that he was standing firmly on the western front.
Tolerably the whole world was waiting to see if Scholz’s visit would be able to alleviate the threat of war. No clear signs of this were obtained.
Scholz and Putin’s perspectives and rhetoric were as far apart as one might imagine in this situation. Scholz said he would not come up with any reasonable reason why more than a hundred thousand soldiers ordered by Putin have been sent near Ukraine’s borders.
He said the “cursed duty” of his generation is to ensure that peace is maintained in Europe.
This is the first generation that has not seen a major war in Europe. Whoever else has a responsibility to prevent history from recurring seems to know Scholz in its bones and core.
In the morning, Scholz laid a wreath at the grave of an unknown soldier in Moscow – a tribute to the fallen of World War II felt like a ceremony this time in an important shocking way.
Scholz’s performance was convincing: this is not about a buzzword. He could only say that he would continue the peace talks and the reduction of troops announced by Russia on Tuesday.
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