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Germany says “silence” is not an option amid high tensions between Ukraine and Russia

A Ukrainian service member is seen at a front line position near the city of New York (Novhorodske) in the Donetsk region, Ukraine on December 17, 2021.

Oleksandr Klymenko | Reuters

Amid accusations that Berlin is not doing enough to cool tensions between Russia and Ukraine and that it has been compromised by its gas pipeline project with Moscow, Germany's new chancellor has said that "remaining silent is not a sensible option" after many years excitement on Europe's doorstep. .

For a number of months now, the international community has expressed concern that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, after gathering 100,000 soldiers at the border. Russia denies having such plans, but has demanded that NATO's military alliance not expand eastward or allow Ukraine to join.

"After years of rising tensions, it is not a sensible option to remain silent," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video conference speech at the virtual event in Davos' Agenda on Wednesday, adding that in Europe "borders must not be moved by force. "

Tensions have been high between Russia and its neighbor Ukraine for a number of years, with relations hitting a low point after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supported a pro-Russian uprising in the eastern part of the country.

Reflecting on intensive talks between US, European and NATO officials with Russia in recent weeks, Scholz said, "it is still too early to say whether they will help de-escalate the situation Russia created by concentrating 100,000 troops. along the border with Ukraine. "

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sitting in front of a camera as he delivers his speech for Davos Agenda 2022 at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on 19 January 2022.

Markus Schreiber | Reuters

Germany's perspective in negotiations, Scholz added, was to emphasize "our commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity and to a key principle of our common European peace order that borders must not be moved by force, that law creates power and not the other way around."

The Russian side is "aware of our determination", he said, adding: "I hope they realize that the benefits of cooperation outweigh the cost of further confrontation."

Germany, along with France, has been trying to mediate peace agreements between Russia and Ukraine for several years, but the pacts, known as the "Minsk Agreements", have been poorly complied with, and both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of mocking the agreements.

However, with the recent completion of a giant gas pipeline (Nord Stream 2) between Russia and Germany, Berlin has been accused of being compromised by the project, which it has not yet given permission to use, and of undermining Europe's negotiating position vis-à-vis - to Russia as a result.

During a visit by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to Moscow on Tuesday, she said there was "no understandable reason" for the Russian military build-up near Ukraine, adding that it is "difficult" not to see this move as a "threat". . "

Ukrainian officials have complained about Germany's reluctance to send defensive weapons to help Kiev, as the British have done in the past week.

The lingering question for many observers of the tensions of Ukraine and Russia remains: How far are Germany, Europe, the United States and NATO willing to go to defend Ukraine?

- Do not miss Geoff Cutmore's discussion with ECB President Christine Lagarde, Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva and India's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at 7.30 ONE FRIDAY. They will discuss the "Global Economic Outlook" on the Davos agenda. You can watch live here.

- CNBC's Silvia Amaro contributed reporting to this story.


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