BERLIN, January 30. /TASS/. Friedrich Merz, the leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), believes that Europe will make a mistake if it attempts to disconnect Russia from the international payment system SWIFT, he said in an interview published by the Die Welt daily on Saturday.
"Once we disconnect Russia from SWIFT, there is a big risk that this system will collapse, and we may then have to switch to the Chinese payment system. That would cause us serious damage," Merz said adding that in spite of this fact, Russia’s possible disconnection from SWIFT "remains a topic of discussion" in Europe.
Merz pointed out that the European Union "did make a mistake" when sealing the association deal with Ukraine.
"It brought about contradictions concerning existing trade agreements with Russia," he said. "As the European Union, we should respect that those countries, which, for example, conclude association agreements or free trade zone agreements with the European Union, can simultaneously have obligations to other economic zones," the CDU leader said.
When touching upon Ukraine’s possible joining NATO, Merz recalled that "there is a NATO decision of 2008, which says that Ukraine will not become a member until certain time."
"I think this position is still correct now. But it is unthinkable that we should go along with Russia’s demands to exclude this freedom of decision on Ukraine’s membership in the long term," he said.
Merz blamed Chancellor Olaf Scholz for procrastinating amid the Ukraine crisis.
The West and Kiev have recently been spreading allegations about Russia’s potential ‘invasion’ of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as "empty and unfounded", serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such allegations and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have serious consequences.