Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz has described the top priority of his Ukraine policy as preventing the war from spreading to NATO. “There must be no nuclear war”he says in an interview with “Spiegel”. “I’m doing everything to prevent an escalation that leads to a third world war.”
In this context, Scholz recalled his no to a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which could only have been enforced if one had also been willing to shoot down Russian aircraft. That would have turned NATO into a war party, says the Chancellor. “I said very early on that we must do everything we can to avoid a direct military confrontation between NATO and a highly armed superpower like Russia, a nuclear power.”
With a view to the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine, there is currently a discussion about whether NATO countries could be perceived by Russia as a war party. Scholz says that there is no textbook as to when one is perceived as a war party. “The book is being rewritten every day, and there are still some lessons ahead of us. That makes it all the more important that we think carefully about every step we take and coordinate them closely,” says Scholz. “Avoiding an escalation towards NATO is my top priority. That’s why I don’t squint at poll numbers or let shrill shouts irritate me.” The consequences of a mistake would be dramatic.