After more than six weeks of radio silence, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke again with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a 75-minute phone call on Friday morning, the SPD politician called for a quick ceasefire in the Ukraine war, an improvement in the humanitarian situation in the war zone and progress in finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict, as government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit announced.
According to the Kremlin, the talks came about on a German initiative. It had been agreed to continue the discussion “on different channels”.
After the start of the war in Ukraine, Scholz called Putin several times, most recently on March 30. A few days later, the massacre in the Kiev suburb of Bucha became known. After that there was no more contact.
In a “Stern” interview published last week, Scholz said: “If there is anything to discuss, I will get in touch again. Our priority is clear: the acts of war must end immediately.”
Hebestreit justified the Chancellor’s current initiative with the words: “Of course, at some point you have to come to the point that there must be diplomatic initiatives again.” The aim is, “this terrible war with terrible numbers of victims, a lot of destruction and also the to find a way out of all the futility that war entails”.
The Kremlin said that Putin had provided “detailed” information about Russia’s goals in Ukraine. One focus was on humanitarian aspects. Putin also pointed out to Scholz “gross violations of the norms of international law by fighters who profess Nazi ideology”.
Russia repeatedly justifies its war of aggression against the neighboring country, which it began on February 24, with an alleged “denazification” of Ukraine, among other things. Experts classify this as a mere pretext for Moscow’s aggression. In the phone call, Scholz rejected Putin’s Nazi allegations against Ukraine.
According to Hebestreit, the chancellor and president also discussed the global food supply, which is strained because of Russia’s war of aggression. “The Chancellor reminded that Russia has a special responsibility here,” wrote the government spokesman. Ukraine is one of the largest grain producers in the world, but is currently unable to export anything due to the Russian blocked ports in the Black Sea.
Scholz had already announced his initiative for a talk with Putin in the Bundestag’s Defense Committee that morning. According to participants, he is said to have pointed out that a conversation before May 9th would not have made any sense. That day, Putin delivered his much-anticipated speech at the military parade marking the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
It turned out to be far less sharp than many had expected. It had been feared that Putin could call for general mobilization or formally declare war on Ukraine.