BERLIN, Jan 26 (Asia Free Press): French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a joint press conference in Berlin, the capital of Germany, have stressed their support for Ukraine and reiterated their position that Russia would pay a high price if it attacked its smaller neighbour Ukraine, according to local media reports.
During press briefing, President Macron said he would seek clarification over Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine in a phone call with President Vladimir Putin on Friday amid rising fears of an attack by the Kremlin on its former Soviet republic, reported Reuters.
The two leaders were speaking ahead of the resumption of the so-called “Normandy format” talks, with political advisers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany set to meet in Paris on today.
Macron said he hoped his telephonic conversation with President Putin on Friday would yield a “demanding dialogue and obtain clarifications”.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in what Russia denounced as Western “hysteria” in response to its build-up of tens of thousands of troops on the Ukraine border.
Berlin, however, has refused to follow other Western countries in sending Kyiv lethal weapons to defend itself against a possible Russian invasion, prompting to Scholz defend its record on supporting Ukraine in other ways.
“We have done a great deal to actively support economic development and democratic development in Ukraine,” he said, adding that there were historical reasons for Germany’s refusal to send lethal weapons to war zones.
“We feel responsible, for example, for ensuring that Ukraine remains a (gas) transit country,” Scholz said while also added, “Ukraine knows it can rely on Germany.”
Earlier, Russia denies it plans to invade Ukraine but is demanding legally binding security guarantees from the United States and NATO. It said with a great concern after the United States put 8,500 troops on alert to be ready to deploy to Europe in case of an escalation in the Ukraine crisis.