Germany's Scholz promises more air defense help to Ukraine

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that Ukraine will receive more air defense, citing the troubling condition of the Ukrainian energy sector, approaching winter.

 US air defense system with components from Israel's Iron Dome. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
US air defense system with components from Israel's Iron Dome.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany's priority in its aid to Ukraine should be to help it defend itself from Russian air raids on its cities and to help it rebuild its infrastructure.

He added in an interview with RND newspapers on Friday that Europe should prepare to receive more refugees from Ukraine, which has been battling a Russian invasion since February 24.

"Russia is bombing Ukraine's energy infrastructure. Russia wants to make sure people in Ukraine can't survive the winter cold," he said in an on-stage interview. "We are currently discussing with many German companies what they can do to counter this destruction."

The air defense systems Germany had sent to Ukraine had played a key role in minimizing the destruction so far, but Germany would work with partners to send more, he added.

Earlier, Scholz agreed in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Germany would continue to send air defense systems.

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy greets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as French President Emmanuel Macron stands, outside the Mariyinsky Palace, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy greets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as French President Emmanuel Macron stands, outside the Mariyinsky Palace, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

Scholz's comments on Putin

Scholz told the audience that he was convinced that, regardless of the flurry of diplomacy with which Western leaders had tried to avert war in the run-up to Russia's invasion, President Vladimir Putin had long been set on his course.

"I'm convinced Putin decided on this war two years ago," he said. "We saw the troop build-up... We hoped it was just threatening gestures, but it wasn't: it was a war long in the planning."