December 2, 2023


BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday urged the European Union to take the unity the bloc has found over Russia’s war in Ukraine and apply it to major climate reforms.

During a one-hour question-and-answer session in the German parliament, Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “miscalculated” when it came to the unity of the EU in imposing sanctions on Moscow and giving Kyiv weapons and financial aid.

“We must now use this unity to make great progress in Europe, so that this results in a momentum that goes far beyond that,” the chancellor said.

Scholz said the top priority was to advance climate reforms to switch EU energy production to renewables and reduce vulnerabilities resulting from dependencies on foreign supplies.

“In my view, it is important that we now show solidarity in dealing with the challenges posed by Russian aggression and the economic consequences of the sanctions,” he said. “And that means first and foremost that we must ensure that Europe stands on its own two feet as far as energy supply is concerned and makes itself independent of fossil resources, especially the need to import coal, oil and gas.”

However, the EU has recently struggled to maintain the unity that it found in the early days of the war, with some countries calling for a swift ban on Russian energy imports, while Berlin and others have argued that would be too costly and tip Europe into recession.

Scholz’s exhortation reflected growing concern in the German government over the sluggish speed of the EU’s Fit for 55 package, a pillar of the bloc’s “Green Deal” climate protection plan, in legislative discussions among EU countries.

Germany tried in vain to insert language in recent European Council summit conclusions that would have highlighted the importance of the EU’s shift to renewables for the bloc’s broader security.

Asked about Russian-Ukrainian peace talks, Scholz stressed Moscow must not be allowed to dictate the terms of a deal to Ukraine. He said Kyiv had already made “a great concession toward the aggressor” by agreeing to discuss the possibility of neutrality for Ukraine.

Referring to mass killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, Scholz made clear that Berlin — like other Western capitals — had no doubt Russian forces had committed war crimes.

“Before their retreat, Russian soldiers committed a massacre of Ukrainian civilians, including children, women and the elderly,” he said, adding: “The murder of civilians is a war crime. To be clear, the perpetrators and their principals must be held accountable.”


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