Listen to the news

"All calls for a ceasefire are frivolous. A truce at this point would mean acknowledging an injustice," German President Steinmeier told Deutsche Welle.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned attacks on critical infrastructure and civilians in Ukraine as part of Russia's military strategy, called nuclear threats unacceptable and explained why no guarantees could yet be formulated for Ukraine's security.

Mr. President, what we are currently witnessing in Ukraine has very little in common with conventional methods of warfare.

What is happening is a war against civilians.

Why is Putin doing this and what does it change for us?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

I do not quite agree that what is happening has nothing to do with the war.

I think this is part of Russia's military strategy.

This is not only a brutal war being waged against the Ukrainian army, but also - this is becoming increasingly apparent as winter approaches - a brutal attack on critical infrastructure and, of course, on the civilian population.

We know that the destruction of the heating and electricity infrastructure will condemn the people of Ukraine to cold and darkness.

And this is not an accidental side effect, but appears to be part of the Russian strategy to hit the civilian population in order to wear the country down.

We must oppose this.

We must help the Ukrainians and ensure their survival this winter.

Germany is helping Ukraine with arms deliveries, but Kyiv is still waiting for battle tanks, which Berlin is not sending.

Isn't this attack on civilians a reason to rethink German policy on this matter?

Steinmeier:

I think Germany's position on this issue has changed.

And this applies not only to the government, but also to the entire population of the country, who realized in a few months that what we are used to in terms of security in Europe is no longer guaranteed.

As a result, the German government decided on huge additional defense spending, including better equipping and equipping the Bundeswehr.

And now we really support Ukraine not only humanitarian, financial and economic, but also to a large extent militarily.

After an air raid alert: The German president entered a bomb shelter in Ukraine

Moreover, I think that the German government has chosen the kind of support that Ukraine needs.

The emphasis on air defense, defense against unmanned aerial vehicles and especially against missile attacks was exactly what needed to be done.

60-70% of Russian missiles are successfully destroyed by the Ukrainian army, also thanks to German military support.

Mr. President, you know who are the people in Moscow who are inciting war.

For years, Putin has spoken openly about his intentions towards Ukraine.

Earlier, like the German government, you did not take it seriously.

Now what about the fact that Putin is threatening to use nuclear weapons?

Steinmeier

: First, I would argue that the threat was not taken seriously.

If you look at the period after 2014, European governments tried not only to maintain the ceasefire, but also to use it as a prologue to peace.

For this purpose, the Minsk agreements were signed, which we discussed with the then Ukrainian President Poroshenko.

Second, as for Russian threats to use nuclear weapons, they are unacceptable.

After all, efforts are now being made to make nuclear weapons redundant for the entire world.

The threat of using nuclear weapons is not only unjustified, but contrary to all our historical experience, it is unacceptable.

This is the next stage in the escalation of this war by Russia.

Nuclear weapons should not be used, and I think that is the opinion of the majority of the world.

This was also evident at the G20 Summit in Bali, where everyone unanimously condemned even the threat of using nuclear weapons, let alone their actual use.

A clear message that I hope will be understood in Moscow.

What ways out of this war do you see?

What might a mutually acceptable solution look like?

Steinmeier

: All calls for a ceasefire are now frivolous.

Because a truce at this point would essentially be an acknowledgment of an injustice already done.

It would mean that Russia would keep the occupied territories.

This will mean that borders can be violated, international law can be ignored, and sovereign land can be seized - that all this is allowed.

And this cannot be the result of the ceasefire.

Therefore, unfortunately, I have to say that at the moment I see no way out.

In connection with the recent fall of a missile on Polish territory, to what extent do you fear that the war that is being fought in Ukraine will spread beyond its borders?

Steinmeier

: I very much hope that this can be avoided.

My hope is also strengthened by the extremely cautious reaction not only of the US, but also of NATO as a whole.

Immediately after what happened in Eastern Poland, there was the closest communication between the American and Polish presidents.

NATO's Secretary General reacted immediately, saying that the situation should be investigated first and the responses assessed later.

I think this shows the prudence of NATO, as well as the fact that there are minimal contacts with Moscow at the military level.

Where such contacts exist, they should be used on both sides.

Germany

Frank-Walter Steinmeier