Olaf Scholz rejects criticism that Germany does not support Ukraine enough by supplying heavy weapons.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday dismissed criticism that Germany was not backing Western efforts to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons, saying he would rather be cautious in his decision-making.
Scholz is under pressure at home and abroad to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion by supplying kyiv with heavy weapons such as tanks and howitzers and supporting an immediate European Union embargo on imports. of Russian energy to strip President Vladimir Putin of hard currency that helps him finance the war.
“I make my decisions quickly and together with our partners,” Scholz told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview. “I find the hasty actions and non-conformist German efforts questionable.”
On April 26, Germany announced its first delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine after weeks of pressure at home and abroad to do so amid confusion over its position.
The German government, which is also trying to reduce its heavy dependence on imported Russian energy, has approved the delivery of Gepard tanks equipped with anti-aircraft guns.
This decision was supported by 55% of Germans who, in an opinion poll, said that Europe’s largest economy should supply such weapons to Ukraine.
However, the decision did not help reverse the public perception that Scholz was indecisive and lacked leadership. An opinion poll published in Bild am Sonntag showed that 54% were unhappy with Scholz’s handling of the crisis. His approval rating fell to 32%, according to the poll.
Critics, including Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, have accused Berlin of dragging its feet on supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons and other measures that could help kyiv repel Russian forces, such as an embargo on Russian energy imports.
They said Berlin was not showing the leadership expected of a great power and that its wavering – amid concerns over the economic effect in Germany of the Russian gas supply ban – was costing Ukrainians their lives. .
The Greens and Free Democrats, junior coalition partners of Scholz’s Social Democrats, are more eager to provide more military aid to Ukraine.
Scholz has had to balance their demands with those of left-wing members of his party who say delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine risks provoking a Russian military response in a third country and triggering a wider conflict.
Scholz, a social democrat whose party has long championed rapprochement with Russia after World War II, warned against the risk that Moscow perceives Germany as a party to the conflict, which could lead to a “third world War”.
Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say that Russia has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.