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Scholz refuses to send planes to Ukraine: I will not allow NATO to get involved in the war
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has again pushed back against Ukraine's demands for fighter jets to repel Russia's invasion, urging Western countries not to join a "bidding war" for sophisticated weapons.
Last week, Germany announced it would hand over its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine after weeks of pressure from NATO allies and the European Union.
"The fact that we have just made a decision [on sending tanks] and already the next [fighter jets] debate is raging in Germany — it just seems worthless and undermines people's faith in the government's decisions," Scholz said.
Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk has pressed Germany for dozens of its Tornado fighter jets and urged the international community to join a "coalition of fighter jets" for his country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again urged Western countries to provide his country with more advanced weapons systems in his daily address on Saturday. Zelenskyy specifically mentioned the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
Russia last week condemned the delivery of NATO battle tanks to Ukraine, calling it "direct and growing" evidence of US and European involvement in the war.
The German leader also said he would continue to call Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressing the importance of keeping an open channel of communication in order to end Russia's war on Ukraine.
Scholz said the tone of the talks was "not rude, but our points of view are of course completely different".
"And I'm going to keep calling Putin — because we need to keep talking to each other," he said.
The last phone call with Putin was in early December. The Russian leader said at the time that the German and Western line on Ukraine was "destructive" and called on Berlin to rethink its approach.
The talks, Scholz said, were often about "concrete issues" such as prisoner exchanges, Ukrainian grain exports and the fate of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
"For me, it's important that conversations keep coming back to the main point: how does the world get out of this terrible situation? The condition for this is clear: the withdrawal of Russian troops", said Scholz in the interview.
Scholz also warned that NATO should not get involved in a war with Moscow.
"A German chancellor who takes his oath of office seriously must do everything to ensure that Russia's war against Ukraine does not turn into a war between Russia and NATO," he stressed, adding that he would not " allow such an escalation".
Germany is the second largest donor of military equipment to Ukraine after the US, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, ahead of other European powers such as France and Britain.
Source: AL Jazzera