Scholz urges wider alliance against Russia to thwart Putin
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reacts after addressing the assembly during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos on Thursday. (AFP photo)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for more countries to join international efforts to isolate Russia, saying President Vladimir Putin must not be allowed a victory in Ukraine that could embolden other warmongers.
Scholz’s plea came as the European Union struggles to maintain a united front in talks over further sanctions against Moscow, and many emerging powers in Asia, Africa and South America show little readiness to criticise or even punish Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“Putin wants to return to a world order in which the stronger dictate what is right; in which not everyone is entitled to freedom, sovereignty and self-determination. This is imperialism,” Scholz said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.
“This is an attempt to bomb us back to a time when war was a common political tool, when our continent and the world lacked a stable order of peace,” he added.
In his speech, which included a rare swipe at China, Scholz said Russia’s invasion was not only threatening Ukraine’s existence but was also undermining an international order of rules-based cooperation which has limited large-scale military conflict in recent decades.
“That’s why our goal is very clear: Putin must not win his war. And I’m convinced: He won’t win it,” Scholz said.
Putin will only end his military campaign if he realises that he cannot break Ukraine’s defences, he said, adding that this “is why we support Ukraine”.
Scholz also highlighted some of Germany’s historic decisions triggered by the war, including a push to cut dependency on Russian energy imports and abandoning a long-standing policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones.
Germany has sent military gear such as anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft defence systems to Ukraine. It also plans to provide heavy artillery together with the Netherlands. A plan to allow a German defence company to sell tanks directly to Ukraine got bogged down due to a lack of available ammunition.
Scholz reiterated that Germany and its allies agreed to avoid any steps which would pull the North Atlantic Treaty Organization directly into the war as this would mean confrontation between nuclear powers.
“It is about making it clear to Putin: There will be no dictated peace,” Scholz said. “Ukraine will not accept that, and neither will we.”
Germany, which currently holds the presidency of the Group of Seven industrialised countries, wants to avoid a split in which Europe and the US would face a front of emerging powers led by China and Russia.
In a bid to counter this, Scholz has invited the leaders of India, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal and Argentina to the G-7 summit in Elmau in the Bavarian Alps at the end of next month.
Scholz called out China over apparent abuse of mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghurs in mass detention camps in the Xinjiang region, saying such “violations of human rights” cannot be ignored.