German Chancellor Seeks Meeting With Putin & “New Start” With Russia, Will Place Issue Under “Personal Control”
Much too important to leave to Washington or his greencon FM
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz considers efforts to build relations with Russia as an important factor and is going to place this issue under his personal control and expects to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin already in January, the German newspaper Bild reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.
TASS has no official comment from Berlin on this information.
As the paper reported, Scholz seeks “a new start” in relations with Moscow. In particular, the focus will be on relations in the gas sphere and the Ukrainian issue. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Foreign Policy Adviser Jens Plotner has been preparing a meeting with the Russian leader in January for already two weeks, the tabloid said.
According to the paper, this situation leaves behind Germany’s Greens who generally have a more critical view on Russia, especially with regard to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. German experts have said on many occasions that Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has a different view on building relations with Moscow than Social Democrat Scholz.
According to German daily BILD, Scholz reportedly wants to make Russia Chefsache (an executive matter), meaning his foreign minister Annalena Baerbock will likely play a smaller role on the issue.
The alleged move comes amid growing concerns over a potential Russian attack on Ukraine, a question on which the Social Democrat chancellor and his Green coalition partner have increasingly divergent views.
The Greens have been vocal advocates of a hard stance vis-à-vis Russia. In December, Baerbock had promised “harsh diplomatic and economic consequences” should Russia interfere in Ukraine.
Her party colleague, economy minister Robert Habeck, has also publicly mulled consequences for the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, connecting Germany and Russia.
Scholz, for his part, has called Nord Stream 2 a “private-sector undertaking” that should not be politicised.
With his move to take control over the issue himself, the chancellor thus seems to be making an effort to silence the Greens’ more hardline stance.
Since coming into office, Scholz has made several comments suggesting he wants to take key foreign policy matters into his own hands as much as possible.
Asked in December whether Baerbock controlled Germany’s foreign policy, Scholz had said that the government’s actions “start with the chancellor”.
According to BILD, Scholz is looking for a “fresh start” for Germany’s policy on Russia and might be planning a meeting with Russian President Putin already in January.
Moreover, Scholz’s foreign policy advisor, Jens Plötner, is set to meet with his Russian and French counterparts during the course of this week, a government spokesperson said on Monday.
But Russia is not the only issue where Scholz seems to be setting out to water down the Greens’ stance.
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told reporters on Monday that, while Scholz “opposes” the planned inclusion of nuclear energy in the EU’s green taxonomy, Germany would not join Austria in suing the European Commission over its draft plans for the taxonomy.