German chancellor says world at ‘turning point’ amid war in Ukraine

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “turning point” for the world on Thursday, accusing Russian Vladimir Putin of trying to upend the system of international cooperation.

Scholz’s remarks were made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he referenced the book “The Magic Mountain.” In the work, the protagonist is awakened from a seven-year stay at a Swiss sanatorium to the thunderbolt of World War I.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we, too, have experienced a thunderbolt,” Scholz said.

He added that Russia’s invasion is not “some little conflict,” because Putin is aiming to return to a world order dictated by strength.

“The world is indeed at a turning point,” Scholz said. “And it is not only the state of Ukraine that is at stake. It is the system of international cooperation that was designed in the aftermath of two devastating world wars.”

“That is an attempt to blast us back to a time when war was a common instrument of politics, when our continent and the world were without a stable, peaceful order,” he added.

But Scholz noted that Putin had failed in his “strategic goals” to take the former Soviet country, with Russia’s invasion now stretching on for more than three months without a notable victory.

Ukraine pushed Russian forces back from the capital of Kyiv and has fought ferociously in the eastern Donbas region after Russia regrouped last month for a renewed offensive.

“To my mind, if one thing is clear, it is that Putin will only seriously negotiate a peace when he realizes that he cannot break Ukraine’s defenses,” Scholz said.

Scholz called recent German commitments to send weapons to Ukraine an “about-face” on the country’s defense policy and pointed to plans to create a €100 billion fund — about $107 billion — to modernize the German military. Scholz said the advancements would ensure Germany is able to defend itself “under the new conditions” of Russia’s invasion.

“We cannot allow Putin to win his war, and I firmly believe that he will not win it,” he said.

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