German tanks are also no threat to “Russian territory,” the chancellor claimed
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has claimed a “consensus” was reached with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that Kiev will not use Western weapons, including German Leopard tanks, to stage attacks on Russian territory. The West, however, still considers Crimea and four other new Russian regions to be part of Ukraine.
In an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper published on Saturday night, chancellor Scholz once again pinned all the blame for the conflict on Moscow, arguing that Russia’s “unprovoked aggression” justified the collective West’s intervention with military aid to protect the “European peace order.”
“Together with our allies, we are giving battle tanks to Ukraine so that they can defend themselves,” Scholz argued. He added that Berlin “carefully weighed every arms shipment, closely coordinating… first and foremost with America.”
Scholz pledged 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine from the Bundeswehr’s own stocks last month, after the US promised to send some of its own M1 Abrams tanks sometime later this year. In the interview, the German leader dismissed any concerns about his country’s weaponry once again being used against Russian soldiers as “abstruse historical comparisons.”
At a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of victory at the Battle of Stalingrad on Thursday, Russian President Putin said it was “unbelievable, but true – we are once again threatened with German Leopard tanks, with crosses on their hull. And once again seeking to battle Russia in Ukraine with the help of Hitler’s followers, the Banderites.”
“Those seeking to defeat Russia on the battlefield apparently do not realize that a modern war with Russia would be entirely different for them,” he added, promising a response that goes beyond armored vehicles.
“No, Putin didn’t threaten me or Germany,” Scholz said about their phone conversations with the Russian leader, when the interviewer brought up recent claims by Britain’s ex-Prime Minister. The Kremlin said Boris Johnson had either deliberately lied about a “missile threat” or simply didn’t understand what Putin was talking about.
Further justifying Western arms shipments, Scholz said there was a “consensus,” when asked if there was any kind of “agreement” with President Vladimir Zelensky that these weapons will only be used on “Ukrainian territory.” He did not elaborate on whether there was a consensus on which territories are considered to be Ukrainian.
The US also allegedly provided its military aid to Ukraine on condition that it is not used to strike targets in Russia. However, American officials have said this restriction does not apply to Crimea and the other new Russian territories, and repeatedly stated that Kiev was free to pick its own targets.
Crimea and the city of Sevastopol joined Russia in 2014, while the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, did the same last year. Kiev dismissed referendums in which people living in those territories voted for the move as a “sham.”
On Wednesday, President Putin tasked the military with “eliminating any possibility” of Ukrainian strikes against Russia. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov clarified that includes the territories that Ukraine still considers to be its own, saying that Moscow will “push back” the Ukrainian troops to a range at which they will not be a threat, and that “the longer range the weapons supplied to the Kiev regime have, the further the troops will need to be moved.”