German leader still in contact with Putin

BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday it was “absolutely necessary” for some leaders to speak directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of efforts to end the war in Ukraine, and he and the French President will continue to do so.

Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron have had several phone conversations with Putin, separately and together, since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24. These contacts have drawn criticism, including from the Polish president, who recently said they were achieving nothing and only served to legitimize the Russian leader.

“It is absolutely necessary to talk to Putin, and I will continue to do so, as will the French president,” Scholz told German news agency dpa a day after he, Macron and the Italian and Romanian leaders met. maintained with Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

“There are needed countries, and some needed leaders, talking to him – and they need to be clear,” Scholz told dpa in an English-language video interview.

“When I talk to Putin, I say, for example, the same things I told you,” he added. “Please understand that there will be no [dictated] peace. And if you really believe that you will steal land and then hope that times will change and everything will be back to normal, that’s a mistake.”

He said his message is that “you have to withdraw your troops and you have to find an agreement with Ukraine that is acceptable and fair to the Ukrainian people”.

During Thursday’s visit to Kyiv, Scholz and his fellow leaders pledged support for Ukraine’s bid to eventually join the European Union. On Friday, the EU’s Executive Commission recommended making Ukraine a candidate for membership, which the bloc’s current 27 members will have to approve.

“We’ll have to find a common approach, but I’m pretty optimistic about our ability to handle this,” Scholz said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during an interview in his office in the chancellery, in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 17, 2022. (Michael Kentendre/dpa via AP)

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