After pledging to continue applying pressure on Russia over its military operations in Ukraine, US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a private meeting in the Oval Office in March for nearly an hour. The discussion omitted even their most senior advisors.
Biden and Scholz left the meeting and crossed the hall to the Roosevelt Room, where the German and American officials chatted. At the time, an anonymous source told the Associated Press that Biden made light of the fact that the two presidents had come up with solutions to all of the world’s issues on their own.
The White House did not disclose if any agreements or plans were made. According to the official meeting readout, the two presidents “exchanged perspectives on other global issues” and discussed the war. The readout didn’t go into much of the discussions.
Months down the line, a German tabloid, Bild, made an explosive revelation on November 24 about an alleged US-German plan that seeks to end the Ukraine war. Citing an unnamed source, the report stated the United States and Germany intend to encourage Ukraine to engage in negotiations with Russia using a carefully calibrated range of weaponry transfers.
According to the report, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden do not intend to put direct pressure on Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, to come to the peace talks.
As per the news site, the two primary military donors to Ukraine intend to supply just the right amount and caliber of weapons to enable Ukraine to maintain its lead and negotiate effectively, but not enough to completely free its land. “Zelensky should realize that things cannot go on like this. Without any external request,” the source told Bild.
“He should address the nation of his own free will and explain that negotiations must be launched.” Berlin and Washington expect that if Kyiv and Moscow refuse to hold formal negotiations, the issue will remain frozen, and there will be no official accord.
“It’s like Minsk, only without Minsk,” the insider told Bild, alluding to the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015, which were supposed to put an end to the conflict in Donbas but instead produced a standstill conflict in eastern Ukraine.
There have been media reports indicating that the West intends to force Ukraine into negotiations with Russia, even at the expense of concessions, as the stability of the pro-Kyiv alliance confronts increasing difficulties. Western officials refuted these reports, stating that Ukraine had the last say in peace negotiations with Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia was prepared for talks to resume and blamed Ukraine for the lack of peace talks. However, analysts observed that Putin’s remarks were intended to increase pressure on the West to force Ukraine back to the bargaining table.
They pointed out that Putin and other Russian officials have frequently stated that the Kremlin is prepared to discuss an end to the conflict while indicating that the goal of the Kremlin remains the acquisition of territory and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government.
According to estimates from the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Russia controls roughly 17.5% of Ukrainian land, in addition to Crimea, which it acquired in 2014. Putin maintains that land is now a part of Russia. On its part, Ukraine has committed to fight until the last Russian soldier leaves its soil despite calls from those inside Ukraine for an alternative approach.
Although US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders have pledged to support Ukraine, there is growing disagreement in the US Congress on aid for Ukraine in the run-up to the November 2024 presidential election. Moreover, with Israel’s military operations in Gaza likely to continue, there is concern about how Washington would supply both its friendly states.
The claims made by the German publication, thus, come at an opportune moment. They also incidentally come against a new military aid package announced for Ukraine, including air defense systems as Kyiv braces for another brutal winter.
Ukraine Has New Military Aid Pouring In
The German Defense Ministry said on November 23 that as part of a military aid deal valued at over €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion), Germany would give Ukraine an extra four IRIS-T SLM medium-range air defense systems. The systems will be available starting in 2025.
According to the ministry, the package includes directional anti-tank mines, artillery shells, satellite communications, demining vehicles, drones and drone-defense systems, and electronic warfare equipment. These are all intended to meet the urgent demands of the Ukrainian armed forces.
After initially being reluctant to give armaments, Germany has grown to be the second-largest provider of military aid to Ukraine after the United States. Later this month, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius affirmed intentions to increase the nation’s military aid to Ukraine in reaction to media claims that the government wants to raise the aid to €8 billion by 2024.
The ministry stated that after Ukrainian staff have finished their training, IRIS-T equipment and a second Patriot tracking radar that was transferred in October will arrive in Ukraine this year.
Germany will also support other coalition capabilities in the future. Additional measures will be addressed at the next meeting on this subject, which is scheduled to take place in Berlin in December. “The Ukrainian armed forces must be made so strong that they can defeat Russian aggression today and deter any attempt at a further attack tomorrow,’’ the ministry said.
The German announcement was made after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv earlier this week, unveiling a new military aid package of US$100 million.
“The message that I bring you today, Mr President, is that the United States of America is with you. We will remain with you for the long haul,” Austin told Ukrainian President Zelenskyy while reaffirming his support for Kyiv.
With this notification, Ukraine will receive its fifty-first shipment of equipment from DoD stockpiles under the Biden Administration. The package contains enhanced air defense capabilities, artillery ammunition, anti-tank weaponry, and other equipment. The aid package includes an extra High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
The US and its allies have given over US$44 billion in security support, including advanced European and US battle tanks, millions of bullets, air defense systems, and commitments for F-16 fighter jets since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022