1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Ukraine updates: Scholz will speak to Putin 'in due course'

Published May 26, 2023last updated May 26, 2023

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was open to talking to Putin again and called for a "fair peace" to end the conflict. Meanwhile, two people were killed in a Russian strike on a Dnipro hospital. DW has the latest.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the podium with flags behind him
Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz last spoke with Vladimir Putin on the phone in December 2022Image: Matthias Schrader/AP Photo/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed openness to speaking directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview published on Friday.

The remarks come amid strained ties between Russia and Germany following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Scholz and Putin held their last phone call in December 2022. The conversation lasted an hour, where Scholz urged Putin to withdraw his country's troops from Ukraine, while the Russian president accused the West of pursuing "destructive" policies in the region.

"My last telephone call was some time ago," Scholz told the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper in an interview. "But I plan to speak to Putin again in due course."

Scholz also said Germany would continue to "actively support Ukraine," but "at the same time prevent a direct conflict between NATO and Russia."

"And never to act alone, but in close coordination with our friends and allies," he added.

On the subject of a possible negotiation to end the war, Scholz said Putin had to understand that the war could not be ended by making "some kind of cold peace" that would turn "the current frontline into the new 'border' between Russia and Ukraine."

"It is about a fair peace, and the prerequisite for that is the withdrawal of Russian troops," Scholz said. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin is ready for a new telephone call with Scholz.

"It is necessary to talk," Peskov said. "President Putin remains open to dialogue, but of course pursues the fundamental goal of protecting the interests of our citizens."

Germany's Scholz calls Putin for first time in weeks

Here are some of the other developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Friday, May 26:

Russian attack on clinic leaves two dead, 30 injured 

Ukrainian officials say at least two people were killed and 30 others were wounded in a Russian missile strike on a clinic in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack a "crime against humanity," as his government deemed it a serious war crime under the Geneva Conventions. 

Rescue workers and a devastated building with smoke pouring out of it could be seen in a video of the attack's aftermath. Most of the upper floor of the building was badly damaged, along with nearby vehicles. 

"Another (Russian) missile attack, another crime against humanity," Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter.  

"The buildings of a psychological clinic and a veterinary clinic in the city of Dnipro were destroyed," he added. 

Russia did not immediately comment on the events in Dnipro. In the past, Moscow has rejected allegations that its soldiers have committed war crimes, saying its military does not target civilians. Russian airstrikes, however, often hit civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings and medical facilities. 

Russia Bombs Hospital

EU: Moving Russian nukes to Belarus will cause 'escalation'

The European Union condemned an agreement between Russia and Belarus to allow the deployment of Russian nuclear warheads in Belarus.

"This is a step which will lead to further extremely dangerous escalation," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

Russia moved ahead on Thursday with its plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, whose leader said the warheads were already on the move. The plan was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March.

Borrell said the decision contravened multiple international agreements. "We call on Russia to abide by these commitments," he said.

"The Belarusian regime is an accomplice in Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine," Borrell added.

Brazil's Lula spoke to Putin on war, declined invitation for forum

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he had a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and reaffirmed his willingness to establish peace talks with both sides of the war in Ukraine.

"I reiterated Brazil's willingness, along with India, Indonesia and China, to talk to both sides of the conflict in pursuit of peace," Lula added, after also discussing the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week.

Lula tweeted he had also thanked Putin for an invitation to attend an economic forum in Saint Petersburg, but had to decline it as he "can't visit Russia at the moment."

The Kremlin confirmed the call and said Putin told Lula that Russia is open to dialogue over Ukraine.

Lula has pitched himself as a peace broker to end the war, which began when Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022.
His proposal, based on Brazil's tradition of non-intervention and neutrality, calls for a group of nations not involved in the war to engage both Russia and Ukraine in talks.

Kyiv says it can liberate Ukraine with jets

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said that it needs 48 F-16 fighter jets to free Ukraine from the Russian occupation. "Four squadrons of F-16s (48 aircraft) are exactly what we need to rid our country of the aggressor," the ministry said on Twitter. 

Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the Netherlands is "seriously considering" sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine but has not taken any final decision yet.

Rutte told a news conference no final decision had been taken on sending the jets, but added that "if you start training it's obvious that is something you are seriously considering."

Last Friday, US President Joe Biden cleared the way for a coalition of allies to supply Ukraine with the fighter jets at the most recent G7 summit in Japan. He gave the green light for Ukrainian pilots to start being trained on the jets

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the F-16s would send a clear signal of strength to Russia and promised to use the jets solely for defense purposes.

F-16s for Ukraine: why they matter

Germany orders 18 new Leopard 2 tanks to replace vehicles sent to Ukraine

The German government has put in an order for 18 new Leopard 2A8 main battle tanks, manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) said. 

The framework agreement includes options for an additional 105 of the Leopard 2A8, the latest version of the tank. On Wednesday, parliament's budget committee approved €525 million ($562 million) for the order. 

The first batch will replace the 18 Leopard 2A6 tanks that Germany has given to Ukraine. According to Munich-based KMW, delivery is expected to commence in 2025. 

Twelve self-propelled howitzers were also ordered from KMW. An option agreement for the howitzers, which are also being used by the Ukrainian forces, was concluded in March.

Germany in a hurry to replace Leopard 2 tanks

UN nuclear chief to brief Security Council 

UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi is set to brief the UN Security Council next week on his proposal to safeguard Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. 

Zaporizhzhia is Europe's largest nuclear power plants, located in Ukraine's southeast. Its safety has been a concern since Russian forces seized it over a year ago.  

The plant has been subject to frequent shelling, causing several power outages vital to cooling the plant's reactors. 

Fears have increased that a nuclear disaster could occur amid increased military activity, while both Kyiv and Moscow have repeatedly accused each other of attacking the plant. 

Grossi last visited the facility in March, and in a press release last week he urged that "it is very simple: don't shoot at the plant and don't use the plant as a military base." 

"It should be in the interest of everyone to agree on a set of principles to protect the plant during the conflict," Grossi added. 

China envoy travels to Moscow

Chinese Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui has arrived at the Russian Foreign Ministry for talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russian media reported.

Prior to the trip to Moscow, Li had been in Europe to discuss possible a possible "political settlement" to resolve the conflict.

While Beijing has said it is a neutral party on the Ukraine war, it has been criticized for refusing to condemn Moscow's invasion.

European politicians have reacted with skepticism to China's list of proposals that Beijing claims would secure peace in Ukraine.

Putin ally: Ukraine conflict may last decades 

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, said the conflict in Ukraine could last for decades and that negotiations with Ukraine were impossible as long as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in power, Russian news agencies reported. 

"Everything always ends in negotiations, and this is inevitable, but as long as these people are in power, the situation for Russia will not change in terms of negotiations," said Medvedev, who is also a former president and prime minister.  

He also warned that the West was seriously underestimating the risk of a nuclear war over Ukraine. Medvedev said Russia would launch a pre-emptive strike if Ukraine were to obtain nuclear weapons.   

"The Anglo-Saxons do not fully realize this and believe that it will not come to this. It will under certain conditions," he added. 

As Ukraine became independent after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union, it inherited  thousands of nuclear weapons from the Soviet stockpile.   

But Kyiv handed these to Russia under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in return for a guarantees of its security and sovereignty from Russia, the US and the UK. 

Ukraine repels Russian attacks over Kyiv

Ukraine said it shot down 10 missiles and over 20 drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks on the capital Kyiv

The defensive action was also carried out over the city of Dnipro and eastern regions, Ukrainian officials said on Friday.

It comes as Russia has increased its missile and drone attacks on Ukraine, seeking to cripple logistics and infrastructure facilities.

A total of 17 missiles and 31 drones were launched during the attacks, which started at around 10:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Thursday and continued until 5:00 a.m. on Friday, with several of them hitting targets in the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, officials said.

Moscow displays 'war art'

The Manege exhibition hall near Moscow's Red Square has hosted an exhibition depicting Russia's military through the centuries, as the images intend to promote Moscow's campaign in Ukraine.

The Kremlin has encouraged artwork emphasizing Russia's fighting spirit and the message that Moscow is fighting a defensive conflict against Kyiv and its allies.

In one of the paintings, called "We are Russians, God is with us," by patriotic artist Vasily Nesterenko, a young woman can be seen carrying Russia's flag and a bullet proof vest with the Z sign used by Russian troops in Ukraine.

The 56-year-old artist Nesterenko has received numerous awards from Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Being in the military is for life, like being an artist," Nesterenko said.

But at the same time, other artists who have been critical of Russia's war have faced repression, while many officials in leading state cultural institutions have chosen to remain silent over Ukraine in recent months.

Japan unveils new sanctions on Russia

Japan announced fresh sanctions against Russia targeting its military as well as the construction and engineering sectors.

Tokyo's latest round follows the G7 summit last week in Hiroshima, where the bloc's leaders agreed to "starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine."

Included in the new package are "an asset freeze of Russian individuals and groups, a ban on the export of goods to Russia's military-related organizations, and a ban on the export of construction and engineering services to Russia," top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

The freeze targets 17 individuals and 78 groups, including high-level military officials, while the 80 organizations hit with export restrictions include the Russian mobile phone operator MegaFon, officials added.

More than 100 Ukrainians freed in prisoner swap

Ukraine announced another prisoner exchange with Russia, which resulted in 106 Ukrainian soldiers being freed.

"It is very important that there was no information about many of these 106 people at all — they were considered missing," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. 

"But we found them. We brought them back home," he added. The soldiers are said to have been fighting in the Bakhmut region. 

"Everyone on the frontline should remember this: the more Russian prisoners of war we will take, the more of our people we will return," Zelensky said.

More DW content on Russia's war in Ukraine

Belarus's autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko has announced the signing of a decree that would allow Russia to deploy tactical, shorter-range nuclear weapons in the country.

jcg/sri (AFP, AP, reuters, dpa)