Germany’s Scholz to travel to Moscow ‘soon’ to discuss Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday he would travel to Moscow to discuss the crisis on the Ukraine-Russia border, with tensions soaring between Russia and the West.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz gives a speech via videolink at Davros.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz gives a speech via videolink at Davros. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP Pool | Markus Schreiber

“I will shortly go to the United States… and I will also soon go to Moscow for talks” on the crisis, Scholz said in an interview with the ZDF broadcaster.

The visit to the United States had already been planned for February 7th, but the chancellor did not give a date for the trip to Russia, only saying “an appointment is fixed and will take place soon”.

The West has accused Russia of massing 100,000 troops on the border with eastern Ukraine, and fears the Kremlin is planning to invade its pro-EU neighbour.

Russia denies it plans to invade but has demanded wide-ranging security guarantees from the West, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.

Scholz on Wednesday stressed the importance of a “coordinated policy with regard to the EU and NATO” on the crisis.

READ ALSO: Germany warns of ‘consequences’ for Nord Stream 2 if Russia invades Ukraine

Asked about a possible war in Europe, he replied: “The situation is very serious, and you can’t overlook the fact that a lot of soldiers and troops have been deployed on the Ukrainian border.”

The chancellor defended himself against growing criticism of Germany’s refusal to send weapons to Ukraine and reiterated that Russia would pay a “very high price” in the event of an invasion.

Scholz also denied being influenced by former chancellor and fellow Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder, who has defended the Kremlin’s positions on Ukraine and championed the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

“I haven’t asked him for advice and he hasn’t given me any either,” he said.

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Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.