Germany’s Scholz under pressure over Ukraine

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Germany’s Scholz under pressure over Ukraine

Just two months ago, Mr. Scholz was defining the conversation. Following Russia's invasion he announced a massive rearmament of Germany and a defense aid package for Ukraine in a dramatic break with decades of pacifist policy. He declared it a Zeitenwende for Germany. But in Ukraine, his critics argue that Scholz needs to move more quickly, because the extra aid he announced last week could not come as fast as direct deliveries of weapons.

For Mr. Scholz, the act of balancing international and domestic politics also includes the expectation of many Europeans that he act as a leader of the continent - a role that his predecessor Angela Merkel often filled at times of crisis. His government is wary of giving Moscow the impression that Berlin is an active belligerent against Russia, at the risk of being drawn into a war that would not only hurt Germany but its NATO allies.

Germany has already sent missiles and artillery to Ukraine, but Kyiv wants heavy artillery, Leopard tanks and armored vehicles such as the Mardar, considered among the best in the world. Ukrainian officials have made repeated public demands. With tensions between Berlin and Kyiv rising, Ukraine went as far as disinviting Germany's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier from a visit to his capital in protest of his longstanding business ties to Moscow.

At the same time Germany has slowed a European plan to boycott Russian gas, the perceived reluctance to fulfill that demand is frustrating for Mr. Scholz's governing partners. They believe that Germany is running out of time to help Russia's President Vladimir V. Putin.

The longer the war drags on, and the closer Putin gets to a victory, the greater the danger that more countries will be invaded and that we then end up in an extended third world war, said Anton Hofreiter, head of the European relations committee in the Bundestag and a member of the Greens, on Wednesday morning.