He told Brennan, “And that deal is now canceled by Putin.”
Scholz said Putin was a throwback to leaders who saw conquest as a show of a nation’s greatness.
“What is Putin thinking? He thinks like the imperialists of the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries,” he said. “He thinks all about nation is power and if you are powerful enough you can just take territory from your neighbours. And it is an activity and an idea that we cannot and will not accept.
The invasion of Russia has, in particular, changed the dynamic in Europe, in particular by bringing Finland and Sweden to join NATO. The German Chancellor also said Putin’s actions had forced Germany to adjust its longstanding international policy.
“We made the very, very difficult decision to change the political strategies that we have followed for many decades – never to deliver arms to a country in conflict,” he said.
Going forward, Germany will approach its international role differently, trying to become more agile in the face of a crisis, he said.
“We are changing the way we spend money on defense,” Scholz said. “And it is the big increase that will change the situation and give us the chance to be faster in reacting to a threat that comes to NATO, to the alliance or to our country.”
For Russia, Germany was the sworn enemy of World War II, when Adolf Hitler’s forces invaded in June 1941 and left at least 20 million Soviet citizens dead. In recent years, however, Germany had become dependent on Russian energy – far too dependent according to Scholz.
“It wasn’t fair that we weren’t ready to have the option at any time to change who delivers gas, oil and coal to us,” Scholz said. “So we should have invested across Europe in infrastructure that gives us the ability to change supply from day to day. And I think that’s the lesson that’s been learned in Europe and many other places that you have to be prepared – be ready for a situation like this.
Looking into the future, Scholz told Brennan that he saw a world where there were many centers of power.
“I think the world we’re going to live in in 2050 will be multipolar,” he said. “Many countries will be important. The United States, Russia, China, the European Union and the countries of this Union, but also Indonesia and India, or South Africa, countries in southern America. And the great task of all of us is to make it work.
But, according to Scholz, the war in Ukraine will only end if Putin decides he has to stop it.
“The conflict will end when Putin understands that he will not succeed with the idea of conquering part of his neighbor’s territory,” he said.