Germany's Scholz vows to help Ukraine but defends ties to Russian gas
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to support Ukraine and refugees in Germany, but said energy dependence on Russia could not end overnight.
Scholz also said Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine had stalled despite the daily assaults inflicted by his troops, and urged Moscow to "immediately" stop the fighting.
"Putin's offensive is stuck despite all the destruction that it is bringing day after day," Scholz said in a speech to the German parliament during a series of debates on Wednesday.
Unprecedented sanctions imposed by Western partners are working and will only bring further damage to Russia's economy, warned the German leader.
"But that is just the beginning, many of the toughest consequences will only been seen in the coming weeks," he said, warning that "we are constantly creating sanctions."
Putin "must hear the truth" that not only is the war destroying Ukraine, "but also Russia's future".
Scholz stressed that Germany stands by Ukraine. Pointing to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky's appeal for support to the Bundestag last week, Scholz said: "President Zelensky, Ukraine can count on our help."
But Scholz said he would not endorse calls for NATO to help erect a no-fly zone over Ukraine or to send in "peacekeeping troops".
"As difficult as it is, we will not give in on that," he said, adding that Germany would not risk a direct military conflict between nuclear-armed Russia.
Scholz pledged to support refugees from Ukraine, although he acknowledged it would be a huge challenge.
"It is still completely unclear how many women, men and children from Ukraine will seek refuge with us. All we know is that there will be many," said the Chancellor.
He added: "The refugees are welcome here with us."
Scholz also said that stopping imports of Russian oil could not happen overnight, adding that if steps were taken too fast then Germany could see a recession and many people would lose their jobs.
"The sanctions should not hit the EU harder than the Russian leadership," he said.
Scholz said, however, that people in Germany would receive financial support due to the rising energy prices.
In his address to the Bundestag, Scholz also said Germany would do everything possible to try and avoid a difficult Covid infection wave in autumn.
He said that due to all these challenges, solidarity was needed, including at NATO and EU levels.
"We will show the world that we stand together," Scholz said.
"Freedom and democracy are suddenly not abstract concepts anymore, but things that must be defended."