Scholz: severe sanctions ready in Moscow. A signal from the Russians: let’s negotiate

from Paolo Valentino

Lavrov to Putin: diplomatic chances not yet exhausted. Zelensky: we in NATO maybe just a dream

BERLINRussian military activities on the border with Ukraine are inconceivable for us, ‚ÄĚsays Olaf Scholz after three hours of talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The German Chancellor came to Kiev not only to renew Germany’s concrete solidarity in the face of the threat of invasion, but also to signal, the day before seeing Vladimir Putin, that there is no possibility of dialogue behind Ukraine. .

The territorial integrity of the country for Germany “is not negotiable” and any Russian aggression would have very serious consequences. Therefore, according to the chancellor, “immediate signs of de-escalation” must come from Moscow. Otherwise there would be “severe sanctions that we have carefully prepared and can be launched at any time, together with our European allies and NATO”.

Scholz did not come empty-handed. The German leader in fact promises 300 million euros of new economic aid, which is in addition to the almost 2 billion euros already granted by Berlin to Kiev since 2014.. But he confirms that there will be no arms supplies from Germany, although Ukraine has again requested them: in the morning the Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin, Andrij Melnyk, in fact asked the German government for the immediate supply of 12,000 missiles. anti-tank, to be used to counter a possible Russian land offensive: “The situation is dramatic and we must prepare for the worst scenario,” he said. The request for missiles is a new request compared to the “wish list” sent to the chancellery on February 3 by Melnyk and which included, among other things, digital communication tools, mine detectors, protective combat suits, radar stations.

It was an important day, yesterday, for the development of the crisis. As the build-up Russian military on the eastern border of Ukraine and Belarus, for the first time in many days a kind of soothing and highly scripted signal came from Sergey Lavrov. Faced with Vladimir Putin, shortly before a meeting with the president, the Russian foreign minister declared himself in favor of continuing diplomatic efforts to defuse it: “We have said several times that we do not want to negotiate forever, but it seems to me that the possibilities of a solution are not yet exhausted and we must consider a way forward”. Putin just nodded.

And there was also a significant step in the joint press conference of Scholz and Zelensky, when they both admitted that Ukraine’s membership in NATO is not current. The Ukrainian president said that “perhaps the question of the Alliance’s open door is just a dream for us.” Nobody knows when and how it will happen. Scholz defended the principle that every sovereign country has the right to apply to join NATO. But he noted that at the moment, “we need to look reality in the face” and the issue of Ukraine’s accession to the Atlantic Pact “is not on the agenda”. Therefore, there is no giving in to the Kremlin’s claims, which would like the definitive repudiation of an entry to Ukraine, but the indication of an opening for compromise.

The meeting in Kiev also talked about Nord Stream 2, the Russian-German gas pipeline, the cornerstone of the crisis, which American President Biden clearly said he wanted to block in the event of a Russian invasion. Zelensky defined the pipes laid under the Baltic Sea “an energy danger and a threat to the security of our country”. As on other occasions, Scholz avoided mentioning Nord Stream 2 by name, even though he reiterated that sanctions in the event of military aggression “would be devastating” for Moscow.

Today, in the meantime, it will be the turn of Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in Kiev: the head of Italian diplomacy will reiterate – they let the Farnesina know – support for the “sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine”. Subsequently Di Maio will fly to Moscow for a meeting with Lavrov which will probably take place on Thursday.

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