German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a joint press conference with the Ukrainian president following their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, 14 February 2022. German Chancellor Scholz is on an official visit to Kiev to show solidarity and support to Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

The issue of Ukraine’s membership in any alliances is not on the agenda, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday after talks with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev.

“The issue of [Ukraine’s] membership in alliances practically is not on the agenda” he said, adding that it is strange that Moscow presents this matter as “a serious foreign policy problem.” “However, it is a challenge we are facing. When something that is absolutely out of the question becomes a problem,” he said. He stressed that the freedom of the choice of alliances, “the fundamental Helsinki principles” cannot be a subject for discussion. Nevertheless, he called for reckoning with the reality.

He evaded the question about possible weapons supplies from Germany to Ukraine, saying only that the German government considers each such request individually. “I would like to repeat once again that Germany provides the biggest financial support to Ukraine and it will continue this way on our part,” he pledged. “As for certain possibilities we have, we are considering requests under a new pattern and when the check is over, we will be able to say something.”

The West and Kiev have recently been echoing allegations about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as “empty and unfounded”, serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such claims and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have serious consequences.

Berlin has been against supplying weapons to Kiev but Germany is under strong pressure from its European Union partners, primarily Poland and the Baltic countries, and the United States, which demands Berlin send clear signals to Moscow. Some Ukrainian politicians have accused Germany of “betraying its friends.” Ukraine’s embassy in Berlin earlier referred a verbal note to the German foreign ministry with a list of weapons Kiev would like to receive. It is not ruled out that Scholz’s “mild” response was meant to reduce tension in relations with Kiev.