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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Scholz, Tusk, and Macron to Meet in Berlin on Ukraine

Following a clarifying meeting in the chancellery, the duo will convene with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk for urgent discussions regarding additional European military support for Kyiv.

Amidst a string of setbacks on the battlefield against Russian forces, Ukraine grapples with critical shortages of ammunition, compounded by stuttering aid from Western allies.

Despite a substantial US aid package of $60 billion (55 billion euros), blocked in Congress by right-wing Republicans, President Joe Biden has acknowledged the inadequacy of the $300 million interim support announced on Tuesday.

Tusk has called upon Paris, Berlin, and Warsaw to rally Europe to provide renewed aid to Ukraine.

However, simmering disagreements between Macron and Scholz threaten to undermine cooperation among allies.

According to Nico Lange, an analyst for the Munich Security Conference (MSC), debates between France and Germany have been ongoing for some time and may have escalated in recent weeks.

‘Calculated effort’ 

The convening of the Weimar Triangle summit in Berlin was viewed by Lange as a positive indicator that some corrections to past errors are finally being made.

Germany’s European counterparts have expressed frustration over Scholz’s reluctance to supply its long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine, despite urgent appeals from Kyiv.

Conversely, the chancellor responded strongly to Macron’s refusal to dismiss the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and his direct remarks urging allies not to succumb to fear.

Macron’s comments were seen as an attempt to reintroduce a level of strategic ambiguity to complicate Vladimir Putin’s decision-making, according to Jacob Ross of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

In addition to sparking a debate about the extent of assistance to Ukraine, Macron’s remarks were interpreted as a deliberate effort to rally support from Eastern European allies.

Also Read: Navalny’s Widow Slams Putin: ‘Gangster’ President

However, Macron’s pressure also illuminated stark differences with Scholz.

Scholz emphasized during a parliamentary session that he, as chancellor, is opposed to German soldiers participating in the conflict, not only in terms of deploying troops to Ukraine but also in any potential operational planning within Germany. This stance also informed his decision to withhold supplying Taurus missiles.

According to Scholz, German soldiers should not be involved in selecting targets or determining where strikes should occur, a responsibility he suggested should be shouldered by French officials for the Scalp missiles provided by Paris.

In a late Thursday interview on French television, Macron maintained a combative stance, warning that a Russian victory in Ukraine would severely undermine Europe’s credibility and emphasizing that the continent’s security is at stake.

He cautioned allies against imposing limitations on assistance, asserting that if the situation deteriorates, France stands ready to ensure that Russia does not emerge victorious in the conflict.

Furthermore, Macron criticized those advocating for constraints on aid to Ukraine, stating that such a stance amounts to choosing defeat.

‘Different opinions’ 

Despite their differences, Scholz emphasized the strong personal relationship he shares with Macron, evident through their frequent consultations.

“The strength of our collaboration stems particularly from our ability to engage in dialogue even when our countries hold differing perspectives on specific issues,” Scholz noted.

Scholz underscored the significance of Friday’s meeting, emphasizing the need for allies to consolidate as much support as possible for Ukraine. He spoke with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, reaffirming Germany’s unwavering solidarity with Kyiv.

Germany has been Ukraine’s primary supporter in Europe after the United States, although European efforts to mobilize support have encountered obstacles.

While the EU is striving to bolster weapons and ammunition production within its defense industry, it continues to struggle with scaling up output as the conflict enters its third year.

Poland, as one of Ukraine’s steadfast allies, plays a crucial role. The presence of Tusk, an experienced politician who previously served as European Council president, is expected to help mitigate differences in French-German relations, according to Lange.

Lange emphasized that on the Ukrainian issue, it is imperative for both countries to align their interests and draw closer together.

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