Home News Leaders of Germany, France, Poland meet to mend rifts over Ukraine war | Russia-Ukraine war News

Leaders of Germany, France, Poland meet to mend rifts over Ukraine war | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Leaders of Germany, France, Poland meet to mend rifts over Ukraine war | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Can Poland’s Tusk help Scholz and Macron, who are divided over sending troops to Ukraine, find common ground?

The leaders of Germany, France and Poland are meeting in Berlin to resolve differences over how to support Ukraine as Russian voters go to the polls in an election that looks set to extend President Vladimir Putin’s reign.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosted French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Berlin on Friday with the three members of the so-called Weimar Triangle set to hold urgent discussions on how best to support Ukraine, which is short on the military resources needed to definitively halt Russia’s two-year invasion of the country.

But simmering disagreements between Macron and Scholz threaten to undermine cooperation between the allies. Glaring divisions between the French and German leaders were laid bare at a gathering of European leaders last month when Macron created controversy by saying sending soldiers to Ukraine could not be ruled out and making pointed comments about allies refraining from being “cowards”.

Scholz responded angrily, saying participants at the conference had agreed there would be “no ground troops” on Ukrainian soil sent by European countries.

On Wednesday, he doubled down on his position, telling parliament that German soldiers participating in the conflict is “a limit that I, as chancellor, do not want to cross”. His position applied to the deployment of army personnel in Ukraine and any potential operational planning in Germany.

Dialling down tensions ahead of the summit on Friday, Macron softened his earlier comments.

Speaking to French broadcasters TF1 and France 2 on Thursday, he signalled that the current situation did not warrant the deployment of troops and France would never “go on the offensive”, even while he rammed home his combative message that Europe should not show weakness and keep “all options” open lest the war spread.

The three leaders – meeting on the first day of a three-day presidential election in Russia, which is all but certain to hand Putin another six years in power – will be seeking to send a signal of unity and solidarity.

On Friday, however, the Kremlin stoked divisions with its comments that France was already involved in the war and had now signalled it was ready for deeper involvement.

It is hoped that Poland, one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies, will play a role in helping to patch up differences between France and Germany. The presence of Tusk, a seasoned politician who served as European Council president, will help “moderate differences” in French-German relations, said Nico Lange, an analyst for the Munich Security Conference.

Friday’s meeting is of “great importance” for allies to “organise as much support as possible for Ukraine”, said Scholz, who spoke on Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by phone, underlining Germany’s “unbroken solidarity” with Kyiv.

Key allies

The “Weimar Triangle” of political cooperation among Germany, France and Poland was created in 1991 but has been revitalised in light of their common need for a Ukrainian victory that will halt Russian belligerence.

Macron said on Thursday that Russia was an adversary that would not stop in Ukraine if it defeated Kyiv’s troops.

The three countries are key Ukrainian allies. Germany has become Kyiv’s second biggest supplier of military aid after the United States and is stepping up its support this year although Scholz has faced criticism for refusing to send long-range Taurus cruise missiles.

Ukraine’s forces, struggling against a bigger and better provisioned Russian army, are hoping for more military supplies from their Western partners.

The European Union’s plans to produce 1 million artillery rounds for Ukraine have fallen well short while a $60bn aid package for Ukraine remains blocked in the US Congress by Republicans.

Speaking in Washington on Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said a Ukrainian victory “is essential for European security, but I think it’s also essential for the US” as he warned of “the price of delaying decisions”.

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