Russia will not win its war in Ukraine after failing to secure any of its strategic goals, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday.
President Vladimir Putin’s ambition to capture all of Ukraine was further away now than when the invasion started on February 24, he told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The German leader, however, failed to provide further commitments demanded by Ukraine for more arms and deeper sanctions as it faces a concerted Russian military push in the country’s east.
But he called for more countries to join the alliance against Russia.
EU member states are divided on whether to impose tougher sanctions on the Kremlin and emerging economies have shown showing little sign of wishing to mete out punishment.
Germany wants to avoid a split in which Europe and the US would face a front of rising powers being led by China and Russia.
“Putin wants to return to a world order in which strength dictates what is right … this is imperialism,” he said.
Mr Scholz said the invasion undermined the international order of rules-based co-operation, which has prevented major military conflict in recent decades.
“We cannot allow Putin to win his war and I firmly believe he will not win it” because Russia had “not reached any of its strategic goals”, he said.
“There will be no dictated peace,” he said. “Ukraine will not accept this and neither will we.”
The chancellor said that sanctions imposed on Russia were already tougher and more extensive than those placed on any other country of its size.
“Even now the cost to Putin’s regime is huge and is growing every day,” he said.
He said the Russian leadership would take negotiations seriously only when Mr Putin realised he could not “break Ukraine’s defences”.
Early in the invasion, some critics said Mr Scholz had failed to extend sufficient support to Kyiv, in part because of Germany’s reliance on Russian gas.
Berlin’s defence policy has since been overhauled, enabling it to send weapons to a war zone, and €100 billion has been invested in modernising its armed forces.
Mr Scholz said Germany was also working “flat out” to end its use of Russian fossil fuels.
“We have an unequivocal message for our allies,” he said. “You can rely on Germany.”
Germany has sent military gear such as anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft defence systems to Ukraine. It also plans to provide heavy artillery together with the Netherlands.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has pressed Germany to supply tanks.
“We clearly understand that Germany will not be a country that will lead the process of supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons we need,” he said during a diplomatic lobbying effort in Davos. “Let’s make it clear: If we don’t get heavy weapons, we get killed.”