Members of the German government listen to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his virtual address to the parliament Bundestag at the Reichstag Building in Berlin, Germany, on March 17. 2022.
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
- Zelenskyy says he understands that Germany has to take a more balanced approach to Russia.
- He BILD that he’s no longer angry with German chancellor, Olaf Scholz for hesitating on sanctions.
- Zelenskyy said Germany is more economically tied to Russia, and can’t easily sever that.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he’s no longer mad at German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for hesitating to impose tougher sanctions on Russia and taking a “balanced perspective.”
“There were moments where I didn’t understand why certain people chose to act balanced like this. Were they really prepared to experience attacks like that themselves in order to understand what it means? Sometimes the emotions take you away,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with Paul Ronzheimer, a reporter with German tabloid BILD.
Zelenskyy added that he was wondering how Scholz could take “a balanced perspective” when Germany had some “dark spots in its history.”
“I wanted him to take a clear position for one side. Germany has a leading role in Europe – and I wanted them to stand on the side of truth. I wanted him to decide to take the Ukrainian side fast. My emotions are not so strong anymore now. And I’m receiving the first signals from Germany. I’m not talking about the German people, I felt their support from the beginning. But now I also see the support of the German government.” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy added that while countries like the US don’t have to be “moderate” in their approach with Russia, he understands that Germany is heavily economically tied to Russia.
“The Americans don’t act moderately. The leading politicians in the EU, on the other hand, have to act differently. Every politician needs to find their own position. The politicians need to be honest, they have to take leading roles,” he told Ronzheimer.
Germany is heavily reliant on Russian coal, oil, and gas. In 2021, Russian gas accounted for 55% of Germany’s gas imports, Reuters reported.
Following atrocities in Ukrainian cities like Bucha, Germany has come under pressure to ban Russian energy, but Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing said the move would mean “a significant recession in Germany would then be virtually unavoidable.”
He said that there have been discussions in the European Union about an oil embargo, which Germany does not want.
“But we also know: Germany doesn’t want an oil embargo. There is a coal embargo now – but the discussion on this took a long time, too. We know Germany has been blocking it,” Zelenskyy said.
He said he’s aware some countries are against oil and gas embargoes and is also happy that coal and wood have been sanctioned and understands why Germany voted in favor of a four-month transition period away from Russian coal.
On Thursday, an EU source told Reuters that the plan to ban Russian coal is expected to come into effect a month later than initially planned because of pressure from Germany. The ban on coal is part of the EU’s fifth round of sanctions against Russia.
“It is not so easy for Germany, nor for Mr. Scholz. Germany has many economic interests connected to Russia. Mr. Scholz hasn’t been chancellor for very long, it is not so easy to end economic ties with Russia now,” Zelenskyy said.
BILD is owned by Axel Springer, Insider’s parent company.
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