Olaf Scholz says partnership with Putin’s Russia is ‘inconceivable’

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Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, has ruled out a return to any kind of normal relationship with Russia in the wake of its war of aggression against Ukraine, as he used a statement to the Bundestag to reiterate Berlin’s support for Kyiv.

“Partnership . . . with Putin’s aggressive, imperialist Russia is inconceivable for the foreseeable future,” he told MPs.

He was speaking just days after one of his closest advisers, Jens Plötner, made waves by suggesting the media should focus more on Germany’s future relationship with Russia than on supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons.

Scholz did not comment on Plötner’s remarks, but he played down the prospects of ever returning to the kind of relationship Germany had with Russia before president Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine in February.

However, Nato should not revoke the Nato-Russia Founding Act of 1997 governing relations between Moscow and the western military alliance, he went on, saying that would “play into the hands of Putin and his propaganda”.

The chancellor said the founding act enshrined principles — such as respect for borders, the sovereignty of independent states and the renunciation of violence — that Putin had violated.

In the statement, made ahead of this week’s EU summit in Brussels, the weekend G7 summit in Bavaria and a Nato summit in Madrid next week, Scholz called for a new “Marshall plan” for Ukraine to help with its postwar reconstruction.

Scholz said the images he saw during his trip to Kyiv earlier this month reminded him of the pictures of German cities destroyed during the second world war. “And just like war-torn Europe then, so Ukraine now needs a Marshall plan for its reconstruction,” he said.

Foreign policy adviser Plötner this week triggered an angry reaction from political critics as well as allies after saying the discussion about helping Ukraine was driven by a “feverishness that misses the big issues”.

“You can fill a lot of newspaper pages with 20 Marders [a kind of infantry fighting vehicle Kyiv has requested from Germany], but there are somehow fewer articles about what our relationship with Russia should be like in future,” Plötner said during a debate at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) on Monday.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, an MP from the liberal Free Democrats, one of the three parties in Scholz’s governing coalition, said Plötner’s comments revealed “the way of thinking of the last few decades that brought us into this terrible situation”.

“It’s not the time to think affectionately about Russia but to help Ukraine,” added Strack-Zimmermann, who is also chair of the Bundestag defence committee.

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