Scholz: Germany won’t supply combat aircraft to Ukraine
The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that his country won’t send fighter jets to Ukraine, after Kyiv intensified its calls on the West to hand over more advanced weapons to help it repel the Russian invasion.
On Wednesday, Scholz agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other European countries to do the same, after weeks of intense debate and mounting pressure from allies.
In an interview with Tagesspiegel newspaper, Scholz said, “I can only advise against entering into a constant bidding war when it comes to weapons systems”.
Scholz warned that the launch of a new debate in Germany after the decision on tanks was taken would undermine citizens’ confidence in government decisions.
Scholz’s decision to give the green light to Ukraine’s delivery of Leopard 2 tanks was accompanied by the United States’ announcement to supply Ukraine with 31 US Abrams tanks.
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Berlin and Washington for the move, which was seen as a breakthrough in terms of efforts to support Ukraine.
But Zelensky was quick to stress that his country needed more heavy weapons from NATO to enable its forces to fend off Russian forces, including fighter jets and long-range missiles.
In the interview, Schulz warned of an increasing risk of escalation, especially since Moscow had already condemned Berlin’s and Washington’s move.
“There is no war between NATO and Russia… We’ll not allow an escalation of this kind,” the German chancellor said.
Scholz stressed the necessity of continuing the dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The last contact between the two men took place in early December.
“I’ll talk to Putin on the phone again,” Scholz said, adding, “But it’s also clear that the current situation won’t change as long as Russia continues to wage war and aggression unabated”.