Germany will ‘never recognise’ Russia’s ‘sham’ votes in Ukraine, says Scholz

Germany will not accept the results of the annexation votes organised by Moscow in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call on Wednesday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks on September 21st.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks on September 21st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums” in the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Scholz told Zelensky, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Kremlin-installed authorities in the four Ukrainian regions under Russian control on Tuesday claimed victory in the votes, saying that preliminary results show a majority in favour of being annexed by Moscow.

Scholz and Zelensky discussed “possibilities for further support” from Germany, including the reconstruction of Ukraine, Hebestreit said in a read-out of the phone call.

Scholz stressed that Germany would not “relent in its concrete political, financial and humanitarian support for Ukraine, as well as the defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including arms supplies”, Hebestreit said.

Scholz has come under increasing pressure domestically and from abroad to boost German weapons supplies to Ukraine.

While Germany has provided Kyiv’s forces with armaments such as rockets and anti-aircraft tanks, it has so far declined a request to provide Ukraine with Western-made battle tanks and infantry-fighting vehicles.

Ukraine has said the best response to the annexation votes would be to increase sanctions against Russia and deliver more weapons to sustain its fight-back.

“Ukraine calls on the EU, NATO and the Group of Seven to immediately and significantly increase pressure on Russia, including by imposing tough sanctions and significantly increase their military aid to Ukraine,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

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

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday pressed Russia's President Vladimir Putin to seek a diplomatic solution to end his war in Ukraine, including troop withdrawals, Berlin said following a call between the two.

Scholz urges Putin to withdraw troops for 'diplomatic' end to war

“The chancellor urged the Russian president to come as quickly as possible to a diplomatic solution including the withdrawal of Russian troops,” according to the German leader’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

During the one-hour call, Scholz “condemned in particular the Russian airstrikes against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and stressed Germany’s determination to support Ukraine in ensuring the defence capability against Russian aggression”.

On Russia’s end, Vladimir Putin told Scholz that Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure were “inevitable” and accused the West of pursuing “destructive” policies. 

“It was noted that the Russian Armed Forces had long refrained from precision missile strikes against certain targets on the territory of Ukraine,” the Kremlin said in a statement following the discussion. 

The leaders also discussed the issue of global food security, which is under pressure because of the war.

They also agreed to “remain in contact”, said Hebestreit.

Scholz and Putin have been in regular phone contact through the war.

The previous call between them took place in September and lasted 90 minutes, with Scholz then also urging Putin to “come to a diplomatic solution as possible, based on a ceasefire”.

‘Return to the pre-war peace order’

Despite his firm line on the war in Ukraine, the Chancellor drew sideways glances this week after telling the Berlin Security Conference there was a “willingness” to solve common security issues with Russia. 

“We can come back to a peace order that worked and make it safe again if there is a willingness in Russia to go back to this peace order,” Scholz said, according to reports by Times correspondent Oliver Moody. 

Scholz had prefaced his comments with a reference to Russia’s “imperialist” tendencies, which he said reflected the approach of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, “where a stronger country just thinks it can take the territory of a neighbour, understanding neighbours as just hinterland, and some place they can give rules to be followed.”

“That can never be accepted,” he added. 

He also blamed Russia for destroying the European peace order that countries had worked on “for decades”. 

Nevertheless, commentators accused the SPD politician of stubbornly sticking to Germany’s historical appeasement of Russia rather than recognising the realities of the present day. 

On Wednesday, German MPs also passed a motion to recognise the starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s under Russian dictator Joseph Stalin as ‘genocide’. 

Parliamentarians described the move as a “warning” to Russia as Ukraine faces a potential hunger crisis this winter due to Moscow’s invasion.

READ ALSO: Germany recognises Stalin famine in Ukraine as ‘genocide’