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December 6, 2022 5:43 am

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Germany’s Scholz slams Putin over ‘lies’ and ‘war crimes’ – ‘Europe stands together’


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01:11

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has told fellow lawmakers that Russia’s “scorched-earth tactics” in Ukraine would not deter Europe from continuing to offer support to the government in Kyiv.

Speaking in German Parliament, Scholz said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had expected Europe’s solidarity to splinter, but the conflict had led to further unity amongst Western allies.

“Deliberate attacks on the civilian population are war crimes. To be clear: even such scorched-earth tactics won’t help Russia win the war. They only strengthen the determination and staying power of Ukraine and its partners,” Scholz said.

The speech follows condemnation from across Europe of Russia’s use of cruise missiles and drones to bombard Ukrainian cities in recent weeks. Moscow denies it is targeting civilians – claims dismissed by Scholz.

“All the lies and propaganda, the talk of ‘special operations’ and swift victories – all that was just a facade, like a Potemkin village,” he added.

Kyiv has been hit by Russian missiles this week. /State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters

Kyiv has been hit by Russian missiles this week. /State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters

Kyiv has been hit by Russian missiles this week. /State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters

“Putin is banking on our weakness. But he is mistaken. We are not weak. Our country is standing together. Europe stands together and shows solidarity with each other and with Ukraine. Our global alliances are strong and vibrant as never before. Putin will not achieve his war aims.”

Energy independence

The Chancellor also spoke of the German Government’s efforts to scale back its reliance on Russian energy, stressing Europe’s biggest economy was making progress in sourcing gas and other fossil fuels from new partners.

“We had been particularly dependent on Russian gas. But we have now freed ourselves of this dependency,” he said.

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the EU leaders' summit in Brussels. /Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels. /Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels. /Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

Scholz’s speech came before he traveled to Brussels for two days of meetings with other EU leaders. The gathering of the 27-member bloc is expected to focus on ways to tackle record inflation and Europe’s energy crisis over the winter months. 

Further aid for Ukraine is expected to also be discussed, including a new program to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

00:42

“EU foreign ministers agreed on a new training mission for about 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers here in the EU. One of the two headquarters will be in Germany,” Scholz said.

“By spring, we will train a full brigade of up to 5,000 soldiers. In this way, we are underlining our willingness to participate permanently in building strong Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“Putin’s course of war against Ukraine and against the entire free world will fail – actually, it has long since failed. But Ukraine, Germany, and Europe will emerge from these challenges stronger, more united and more independent than before.”