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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told German newspaper Tagesspiegel he intends to continue trying to work towards an end to the war against Ukraine in direct phone conversations with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
“I will also be on the phone with Putin again - because it is necessary to talk to each other,” he said, adding it was up to Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine and end this “terrible, nonsensical war.”
Scholz also dismissed the idea of delivering fighter jets to Ukraine, warning against “entering into a constant outbidding competition regarding weapon systems.”
The discussion to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets was reignited after the U.S. and European countries decided to supply Ukraine with dozens of Western-built main battle tanks in January.
However, Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that sending fighter jets to Ukraine is “out of the question.”
“Fighter aircraft are much more complex systems than main battle tanks and have a completely different range and firepower. We would venture into dimensions I would currently warn against,” Pistorius told Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets could be the best option for Ukraine’s Air Force, spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said during a briefing. So far, the U.S. has refused to supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine or authorize their transfer by third countries.
On Jan. 19, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the country’s government would look into providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets “if Kyiv asks for it.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky asked partners to give Ukraine longer-range missiles and F-16 fighters during his speech at the Ramstein-8 meeting in Germany on Jan. 20.
Scholz added he wouldn’t allow the “escalation” of a war between Russia and NATO after German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at the Council of Europe on Jan. 24 that the West was “fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”