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GERMANY AND RUSSIA

Scholz demands ‘complete’ Russian withdrawal on call with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull out his troops from Ukraine, as a counter-offensive by Kyiv's forces made swift progress.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Scholz in a 90-minute telephone call on Tuesday “urged” Putin to “come to a diplomatic solution as quickly as possible, based on a ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Russian forces and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Ukraine”, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

The chancellor also encouraged his Russian counterpart to stick to a deal allowing grain exports from Ukraine that Russia has repeatedly criticised.

Scholz told Putin “not to discredit and continue to fully implement” the grain deal in light of the stretched global food supply.

During the call, the German chancellor raised the question of security at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, which has been a focal point of fighting in recent weeks.

The German leader asked Putin to “avoid any escalation and implement in full the measures recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency”.

The IAEA has called for a security zone to be set up around after a mission to the plant earlier this month.

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UKRAINE

Scholz says Russia nuclear threat ‘reduced by international pressure’

The risk of nuclear weapons being used in the Ukraine conflict has lessened thanks to international pressure on Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published Thursday.

Scholz says Russia nuclear threat 'reduced by international pressure'

“One thing has changed for the time being: Russia has stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons. In response to the international community marking a red line,” Scholz said in the interview with Germany’s Funke media group.

Asked whether the threat of a nuclear escalation had been averted, Scholz replied: “For the time being, we have put a stop to it.”

The German leader lauded his recent visit to China as having contributed to the development.

“During my visit to Beijing, Chinese President Xi (Jinping) and I jointly expressed that nuclear weapons must not be used. Shortly afterwards, the G20 countries reaffirmed this position,” he said.

READ ALSO: Scholz urges Putin to withdraw troops for ‘diplomatic’ end to war

Scholz was also asked about controversial comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that it would be necessary to provide “guarantees for its own security to Russia, the day it returns to the table” of negotiations.

“The priority now is for Russia to end the war immediately and withdraw its troops,” he said.

“It is true that the question is then how we can achieve security for Europe. Of course we are ready to talk with Russia about arms control in Europe. We offered this before the war, and this position has not changed.”

Putin’s own menacing language, and the military stalemate, have raised fears Russia could resort to its nuclear arsenal to achieve a military breakthrough.

But speaking at a meeting of his human rights council on Wednesday, Putin suggested that Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to such an attack.

“When we are struck, we strike back,” he said, stressing that his country’s strategy was based on “so called retaliatory strike” policy.

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