German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine would have been blocked from joining NATO for 30 years, in a bid to assure Moscow of the military bloc’s good intentions.
Over the weekend, the German leader revealed some details of his talks with Putin before Russia began its military operation in Ukraine, adding that he now believes Russia sought to “conquer its neighboring country” all along.
“NATO was never a threat to Russia,” Scholz said he told Putin. The chancellor did not specify which conversation he was referring to, though Scholz met Putin in Moscow in mid-February.
Speaking to journalists this weekend during an ‘open-doors day’ at the chancellor’s office, Scholz also denied that the military alliance had disregarded Russian security interests. When the two leaders spoke about the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, Scholz assured Putin that “it will not happen in the next 30 years,” the chancellor revealed.
Scholz also said that he would not abandon dialogue with Russia but struck a harsher tone when assessing Moscow’s motives. He particularly accused Putin of starting the conflict for “completely absurd” reasons.