Munich Security Conference
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Federal Chancellor Scholz made it clear that Germany would continue to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian offensive "as comprehensively as possible and for as long as necessary". In collaboration with its international partners, he said, Germany would continue to provide military support but always being careful to avoid a war between NATO and Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who took part in the opening of the 59th Munich Security Conference via a video link, appealed to the international conference participants to continue to provide extensive support to Ukraine, because, as he put it, freedom is not a subject for negotiation.
In the early part of his speech, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the Ukrainian President directly and assured him that Ukraine belongs "in our midst" and said that, with impressive determination, Ukrainians were making huge sacrifices to defend their freedom. Germany and the international community, he said, would continue to support Ukraine as comprehensively as possible and for as long as necessary to ensure that Putin's Russia did not win their war of aggression against Ukraine.
President Putin must withdraw his troops
"The sooner President Putin recognises the fact that he will not achieve his imperialist aim," Scholz stressed, "the greater will be the chance of an early end to the war and the withdrawal of the invading Russian troops." This is the objective that is being pursued together with Ukraine in an impressive display of European, transatlantic, and international unity. This also includes the prosecution of war crimes. "A lasting peace will not be possible without justice," Scholz declared.
With regard to military support for Ukraine, Scholz explained, it was important to strike a balance between providing the best possible support to Ukraine and avoiding any unintended escalation. "At the same time," he said, "we are being careful to avoid any direct war between NATO and Russia." That is why all measures are carefully weighed and coordinated among the Allies.
Aid for Ukrainian refugees
In addition to providing military aid to Ukraine in the form of state-of-the-art weapons, ammunition, and other goods, as well as training Ukrainian soldiers, Germany is also providing assistance to Ukrainian refugees, giving them accommodation here in Germany and ensuring that they have unfettered access to the labour market, schools, and universities.
Responsibility for Europe and NATO
"Germany," Scholz affirmed, "is firmly committed to its responsibility for the security of Europe and defending the NATO alliance area with no ifs or buts." The Federal Armed Forces reinforced their presence in Lithuania even before the start of the Russian offensive. German soldiers are also helping to defend Slovakia and Poland against air raids as well as supporting NATO with airspace monitoring operations. The German navy has increased its presence in the Baltic Sea.
Germany is also taking on a leadership role in this year’s "NATO VJTF (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force)" and has placed 17,000 soldiers on standby. Germany will be providing an additional 30,000 soldiers for the future NATO force structure as of 2025.
Contribution to nuclear sharing
"Germany," Scholz assured the participants, "is permanently increasing its defence spending to two per cent of the gross domestic product." The 100-billion-euro special fund for the Federal Armed Forces represents a "change of track in increasing the capabilities of our Federal Armed Forces". The Federal Government has already taken the most urgent decision by acquiring the F-35 fighter aircraft, combined with a clear commitment to nuclear sharing and deterrence under the auspices of the alliance.
Europe requires an efficient arms industry
This will also require an efficient and competitive arms industry in Germany and Europe. The European Union EU must make a concerted strategic effort.
Important building blocks towards a European defence industry include the joint development of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) with France and Spain and the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) as well as the European Sky Shield Initiative, first launched by Germany to bolster Europe's air defence within the NATO framework.
"This also means doing more to resolve conflicts within our immediate neighbourhood," said Scholz, referring to the EU proposal for a basic treaty between Serbia and Kosovo.
Ending risky dependencies
But Europe's overall resilience in a digital, technology-driven, globalised world must also be improved, which means ending risky unilateral dependencies. Political and economic relations must be broadened and made more robust. Germany has succeeded in becoming completely independent of Russian energy in a tour de force over the past twelve months. "We Germans know what we are talking about," says Scholz.
Ensuring that the fundamental principles of our peace order and the United Nations Charter are not undermined is also in the interests of the Asia-Pacific, African, Central, and South American states. As such, all countries, including China, are called upon to cooperate in the defence of certain fundamental principles of the international order.
A joint effort to end hunger and poverty
For Europeans to be taken seriously in Indonesia, India, South Africa, or Brazil and to really make a difference, we will need an honest reconciliation of interests that creates the basis for joint action. We need to work together to develop solutions to address growing poverty and hunger in these regions, which are a consequence of Russia's war, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. This will require novel forms of international solidarity and participation, such as at the G7 Summit, where representatives from Asia, Africa, and Latin America were also present at the negotiating table.