Germany on Tuesday said it was up to Russia to de-escalate the conflict around Ukraine, calling for Moscow to withdraw its troops, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz readied to meet President Vladimir Putin over the crisis.
“The situation is particularly dangerous and can escalate at any moment,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement, ahead of the talks in Moscow between the two leaders.
“The responsibility for de-escalation is clearly with Russia, and it is for Moscow to withdraw its troops,” she said.
“The EU and NATO are united around Ukraine,” she said, adding that “we must use all opportunities for dialogue in order to reach a peaceful solution.”
Scholz’s talks with Putin at the Kremlin are the latest in an intense diplomatic scramble to dissuade the Russian leader from attacking his ex-Soviet neighbour Ukraine.
Western leaders consider the Russian troop build-up on its border with Ukraine to be the worst threat to the continent’s security since the Cold War and have prepared a crippling package of economic sanctions in response to any attack on its neighbour.
The Russian leader and his top aides have consistently argued that the current crisis is the result of the United States and western Europe ignoring Moscow’s legitimate security concerns.