MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. Russia does not want any war and this is why it submitted its proposals on security guarantees in Europe and hopes that their key points will be taken into account during negotiations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference following his talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday.
The first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders since Scholz took office lasted slightly over three hours and received high marks from both of them: the Russian president noted its business-like atmosphere, while the German chancellor - that not a single subject was omitted. TASS gathered key statements following the talks.
On whether Russia wants any war
Putin emphasized that Russia does not want any war. "This is precisely why we put forward the proposals on the negotiating process that must result in an agreement on ensuring equal security for all states, including our country."
That said, he reiterated that at the time, NATO unleashed a war against Yugoslavia. "It is a very sad example, but it is a hard fact." Following Scholz’s remarks that then the alliance wanted to prevent genocide, the Russian president noted that what is going on in Donbass nowadays "is indeed genocide."
In response to a question about Moscow’s further steps in the situation around Ukraine, the president said they will "follow a plan." He explained that the plan will be shaped based on "the actual situation on the ground" that will depend not only on Russia.
The German chancellor reiterated that the West was very concerned over the accumulation of Russian troops near Ukrainian borders yet does not think that diplomatic capabilities have been exhausted. "Now this should be about working decisively and courageously over the peaceful resolution of this crisis."
Scholz also said that the return of some Russian troops to their permanent stations that was announced by the Defense Ministry this morning was "a good sign." "We hope that this trend continues."
Negotiations to continue
Putin assured that Moscow would aspire to resolve the security issues by diplomatic means and is ready to discuss the initiatives contained in the US and NATO responses yet only together with those points that are of "primary value and of primary importance" to Russia.
The president noted that Russia has concerns that the West may groundlessly delay the negotiations and it intends to prevent this from happening - the issue of guarantees that Ukraine won’t join NATO should be decided "now, right now."
That said, according to Putin, Russia won’t be satisfied with the assurances that Kiev won’t join the alliance in the near future. "They say, it won’t happen tomorrow. When then? The day after tomorrow? And what does it change for us in the historical perspective? Absolutely nothing."
The German chancellor reiterated that NATO’s eastward expansion is not on the agenda and "everyone knows this for sure." He admitted that the sides have divergent stances on the security guarantees but said it was already good that the West responded to Russia’s proposals while Russia found "some positive points" in them.
The Minsk Accords
Commenting on the State Duma address on recognizing the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Putin noted that lawmakers are "guided by the public opinion, <...> keenly sense it," while the vast majority of Russians "feel for Donbass residents."
However, he added, the capabilities of the Minsk Accords have not been exhausted despite Ukraine’s refusal to observe them. "We are really hoping that both our partners overseas and in Europe, above all, Germany and France, will exert appropriate influence over the current Kiev authorities."
According to Scholz, everybody should adhere to the Minsk Accords, including Ukraine and Russia, while the recognition of Donetsk’s and Lugansk’s independence "would be a political catastrophe." On Monday, following a meeting with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, the chancellor noted that Kiev was planning to bring up for discussion bills on Donbass’ special status and local elections provided for in the Minsk Accords.
Nord Stream 2
Putin reiterated that Nord Stream 2 is a "purely commercial project, <...> there are no political overtones here." The gas pipeline has been ready for use since December 2021 and its launch depends only on the German regulator that conducts certification procedures.
The president also reiterated that the Germans should thank Germany’s former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who supported the construction of Nord Stream 1 for low prices for gas the republic receives from Russia on long-term contracts. "Let German citizens open their wallets, look and answer the question: Are they ready to pay 3-5 times more for electricity, gas and heat. And if they do not want to do this, let them say 'thank you' to Mr. Schroeder, because this is the result of his work."
That said, Scholz dodged the question on whether Nord Stream 2 would be affected by the sanctions that the West vowed to introduce in case of Russia’s "invasion" of Ukraine.
RT and Deutsche Welle
According to the Russian leader, they discussed the issues of RT’s operation in Germany and Deutsche Welle’s work in Russia. "I wouldn’t want to go into details now in order not to complicate the situation but we agreed that we will think of how it is possible to resolve these issues." The German chancellor, in response to the same question, reiterated that RT needed to obtain a license to broadcast in Germany which, in the opinion of the national regulator, it had not done.
That said, the representatives of both media outlets had the opportunity to ask a question to Russian and German leaders: the first question was asked by a Deutsche Welle correspondent, while the last question was from a RT reporter.