US to announce more Ukraine aid as Germany's Scholz visits White House

President Joe Biden is hosting the German leader following the Russia-Ukraine war anniversary

US President Joe Biden receives German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on March 3, 2023. AFP
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US President Joe Biden's administration is set to announce more aid to Ukraine on Friday as it hosts German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the US would provide another round of assistance for Kyiv, which will include “mostly ammunition and munitions that the Ukrainians will need for the systems that they already have”.

Mr Kirby said Mr Scholz's “tight, working-level” visit to Washington will tackle the leader's recent engagements with Ukrainian officials, the coming Nato summit and other global challenges including China.

The meeting between the allies comes just after the G20 conference in New Delhi, where US Secretary of State Antony Blinken briefly met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and urged Moscow to end its war in Ukraine.

Mr Biden and Mr Scholz first met each other in February 2022, just months after the Chancellor took office and right before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“This meeting really is a good opportunity for the two leaders a year in to take stock on the further deepening of our bilateral co-operation over the last year,” an NSC official told reporters on Thursday.

That first meeting, on the precipice of a war that would test the western alliance, “focused on sending a message of unity to deter Russian action against Ukraine”, Robin Quinville, director of the Global Europe Programme at the Wilson Centre in Washington, told The National.

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“But Scholz was also under pressure, including on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the controversial energy link to Russia,” Mr Quinville said. “A year later, Scholz and Biden know each other better.”

Since that initial turbulence, Germany blocked Nord Stream 2, moving its energy sources away from Moscow.

Mr Scholz pledged to increase Berlin's defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP, required by Nato members, including his turnaround declaration of €100 billion in defence spending.

But Berlin has so far only committed about €30 billion of that amount, the government said last week.

Mr Quinville pointed to the “complex procurement requirements” for Berlin's Ministry of Defence and “issues with German readiness” for the slowed expenditure.

“It was no surprise Scholz changed defence ministers at the end of January,” he said.

“His new Defence Minister, Boris Pistorius, recognises the need for internal reform his predecessor never grappled with.

“Scholz will be looking for validation, that Washington understands Germany’s need to move with, but not ahead of, its allies.”

Scholz, Macron and Draghi and Iohannis make first Kyiv visit — video

Scholz, Macron and Draghi and Iohannis make first Kyiv visit

Scholz, Macron and Draghi and Iohannis make first Kyiv visit
Scholz, Macron and Draghi and Iohannis make first Kyiv visit

The NSC official declined questions over whether the Biden administration would support calls from other European countries for Germany to take a larger role in co-ordinating efforts on Ukraine, but added “we've had excellent co-ordination throughout this administration, with the Chancellor's governments”.

“The Chancellor's office, the two national security advisers are in regular contact as well as good communication between our foreign and defence ministries … particularly on these Ukraine-related issues,” the White House official added.

Mr Quinville predicts that Mr Biden will be “looking for the boldness” Mr Scholz demonstrated in his “Zeitenwende” speech to the German Parliament, and to “privately” push him for action and leadership with European partners.

“Publicly, he will show support for Germany’s contributions and support for Ukraine,” he said.

“The Biden administration is a firm supporter of transatlantic unity and will not want to undermine that in any way.”

Updated: March 02, 2023, 11:15 PM

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