Germany leader heads to Kyiv to calm Russia war threat

14 February 2022, 05:39 pm | Updated: 02 December 2023, 08:54 pm

Germany leader heads to Kyiv to calm Russia war threat

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz lands in Kyiv on Monday before visiting Moscow to try to head off a “very critical” threat of a Russian invasion that could spark the worst crisis since the Cold War.

The German leader visits the two capitals in reverse order from that taken last week by French President Emmanuel Macron in his bid to quiet the drumbeats of war echoing across eastern Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has surrounded Ukraine from nearly all sides with more than 100,000 soldiers in a high-stakes standoff with the West over NATO's post-Soviet expansion into countries once under the Kremlin's domain.

The West has remained united and defiant in the face of Putin’s demands for binding security guarantees that would see NATO roll back its forces and rule out Ukraine’s potential membership of the alliance.

But US intelligence officials worry that weeks of crisis talks have given Russia the time to prepare a major offensive--should Putin make the ultimate decision to attack Ukraine.

Washington reaffirmed its warning Sunday that Russia was now ready to strike at “any moment” with an assault that would likely start with “a significant barrage of missiles and bomb attacks”.

US President Joe Biden briefed Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday about his hour-long phone call with Putin the previous day. Biden's talks with Putin broke no new ground, the White House said.

Invitation to Biden

US officials said Biden and Zelensky had “agreed on the importance of continuing to pursue diplomacy and deterrence” in their call.

The Ukrainian presidency said Zelensky had also urged Biden to visit Kyiv in the coming days” in a show of moral support.

The White House made no mention of the invitation in its readout of the 50-minute call.

But Germany's Scholtz sounded firm in his resolve to support Ukraine and hit Russia "immediately" with punishing sanctions if it went to war.

“In the event of a military aggression against Ukraine that threatens its territorial integrity and sovereignty, that will lead to tough sanctions that we have carefully prepared and which we can immediately put into force,” Scholz said on the eve of his departure.

“We assess the situation as very critical, very dangerous,” a German government source added.

Category : International