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Putin and Scholz Meet for Three Hours on Economy, History, Culture—and Also Ukraine

Feb. 16, 2022 (EIRNS)—The new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met for three hours with President Vladimir Putin yesterday in Moscow, and the two gave an extended press conference afterwards. Putin said that he was impressed by the business-like atmosphere of their talks, perhaps unusual in these times; and Scholz remarked that not a single, important subject was omitted. The German Chancellor also emphasized that “it is absolutely clear for us, Germans, and for all Europeans that sustainable security cannot be built against Russia but only with Russia.”

From the Kremlin transcript of the press conference and the release on the private meeting, one finds something refreshing: that, while there was discussion of the Ukrainian crisis, the historical, cultural and economic ties of Russia and Germany were at the core. Putin made note that Scholz, before becoming Chancellor, had been Mayor of Hamburg, where he “contributed to the development of sister city partnership with St. Petersburg”—where Putin had once been mayor. “This year in fact marks the 65th year of those ties.”

Putin briefed the press:

“Russia has been a reliable energy supplier for decades—and throughout this period, no failure has occurred in deliveries of energy resources from Russia as all our activities are based on market principles, with absolutely no questions or doubts in this regard. The partners, the participants in economic activities have known each other for quite a while, and the level of trust between them is high.”

“Today, Russia provides over a third of Germany’s energy needs—both oil (34%) and natural gas (35 or even 35.4%),” Putin stated. He elaborated on Germany’s role as Russia’s second largest trading partner, behind China. “Hundreds of German companies operate in Russia, one way or another, and they have invested more than $20 billion in the Russian economy. In turn, Russian companies have invested just over $10 billion, and this is also a good contribution to the development of the German economy and maintaining jobs....” Putin referenced German-Russian collaboration on Nord Stream 1: “Let German citizens open their purses, have a look inside and ask themselves whether they are ready to pay three to five times more for electricity, for gas and for heating. If they are not, they should thank Mr. Schröder because this is his achievement, a result of his work,” referring to Gerhard Schröder, Nord Stream’s Chairman of the Shareholders’ Committee, and former Chancellor of Germany.

In their discussion, Putin remarked to Chancellor Scholz:

“As I have mentioned ... we will pay particular attention to addressing the developments in Europe related to security and the contentious debates ... including the events around Ukraine.... Just recently, I received my French counterpart [Macron] here, and we also thoroughly discussed all these issues. I know that he informed you on the essence of the subjects that were raised during our discussion. And of course, I would find it very useful and interesting to hear your own assessments of the current developments.”

Scholz responded:

“I have just assumed office as Chancellor, and for me, Germany-Russia history is something special. Given our history, it is very good that we have such close economic ties, as you have noted, and that they continue to develop. It is clearly obvious that now, amidst the current complicated developments regarding peace and security in Europe, we must communicate, just as you already have with my French counterpart.... It is very important that issues between countries are always resolved through dialogue.”

Scholz continued: The West was very concerned over the accumulation of Russian troops near Ukrainian borders, yet he does not think that diplomatic capabilities have been exhausted. “Now this should be about working decisively and courageously over the peaceful resolution of this crisis.” Scholz also said that the return of some Russian troops to their garrisons, as the Defense Ministry announced this morning, was “a good sign.... We hope that this trend continues.” He concluded: “I will say that war in Europe has become unimaginable for my generation, and we must make sure it remains so. Our duty as heads of state and government is to prevent a military escalation in Europe.”

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