Scholz aide’s feedback on future hyperlinks with Russia set off dismay


Politicians and commentators in Berlin have reacted with dismay to remarks by chancellor Olaf Scholz’s overseas coverage adviser, who mentioned the media ought to focus extra on Germany’s future relationship with Russia than on supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons.

Jens Plötner was addressing accusations levelled on the German authorities by giant elements of the media and opposition that it has been hesitant in its help for Ukraine, and far slower to produce it with heavy weapons than the US, UK and France.

Speaking at a debate on the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), he mentioned the dialogue about serving to Ukraine was pushed by a “feverishness that misses the big issues”.

“You can fill a lot of newspaper pages with 20 Marders [a kind of infantry fighting vehicle that Kyiv has requested from Germany], but there are somehow fewer articles about what our relationship with Russia should be like in future,” he mentioned.

“And that is at least as exciting and relevant an issue, and one we could be discussing,” he added.

The remarks prompted an indignant response from Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a outstanding MP from the liberal Free Democrats, one of many three events in Scholz’s governing coalition.

Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the Bundestag’s defence committee, mentioned Plötner’s feedback “reveal the way of thinking of the last few decades that brought us into this terrible situation”. “It’s not the time to think affectionately about Russia but to help Ukraine,” she added.

The remarks by Plötner, who not often speaks in public, shed a uncommon highlight on to the best way Scholz and his group view the battle in Ukraine. Scholz has come beneath assault from allies in jap Europe for sustaining phone contact with Russian president Vladimir Putin, regardless of the atrocities Russian troops are alleged to have dedicated in cities like Bucha and the devastation wrought by Russian planes and artillery on Ukrainian cities.

At the DGAP occasion, Plötner insisted that Germany was supporting Ukraine “politically, economically and militarily” “to a massive degree”. He was talking simply hours earlier than Ukraine introduced it had taken supply of quite a few PzH 2000 armoured howitzers — the primary heavy weapons that Germany has equipped to Kyiv within the battle. The PzH is the Bundeswehr’s most fashionable piece of artillery and might strike targets 40km away.

But Plötner additionally spoke of Ukraine’s doable membership of the EU, which can be mentioned at an EU summit later this week, in phrases the federal government in Kyiv would possibly discover unpalatable.

“Just because you’re attacked doesn’t automatically mean your rule of law improves,” he mentioned. “The problems Ukrainians have suffered from are structural, they’re still there and they must be dealt with.”

Noah Barkin, an skilled on the German Marshall Fund of the US, a think-tank, mentioned: “The messages that Plötner sent are worrying for the people of Ukraine, Germany’s partners in eastern Europe and many of its closest allies around the world, including the United States.”

He mentioned the feedback raised questions on whether or not Scholz’s group was “learning the right lessons from Putin’s war”. “Can the people who promoted close ties to Moscow and Beijing for years pivot to a foreign policy vision that is fit for the challenges of this new era of systemic rivalry?” he requested.

Georg Löfflmann, assistant professor in battle research at Warwick University, mentioned Plötner symbolised the “establishment mindset of Ostpolitik, economic engagement and military reticence that has defined German foreign policy for decades”.