US President Joe Biden thanked Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) for his leadership in dealing with the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “I want to thank you for your strong and consistent leadership. I mean that sincerely. It has made a huge difference,” Biden said Friday at the White House during a brief press briefing at the start of a meeting between the two leaders.

For his part, Scholz praised the “very good cooperation” with the USA and assured Ukraine of continued support. Afterwards, Scholz and Biden wanted to consult. The Russian war of aggression was to be the focus of the talk, which lasted about an hour.

At the start of the meeting, Biden emphasized that Germany had provided crucial military and moral assistance in the past year. “I would say that apart from the military support, the moral support you gave to the Ukrainians was also of great importance,” he said. The Chancellor also promoted “historic changes” in Germany. The drastic increase in defense spending and the move away from Russian gas were difficult decisions. Biden stressed that the US and Germany have always worked together in support of Ukraine and will continue to do so.

Scholz said in English that joint support for Ukraine over the past year was very important. “Now it is very important to send the message that we will continue this for as long as necessary.” Scholz also emphasized how good he thinks relations with the USA are. “I really appreciate the very good working relationship between the two of us.” This also applies to the cooperation between the governments in the USA, Germany and Europe.

Second visit to Washington as Chancellor

It is the Chancellor’s second visit to the White House in the almost 15 months of his term in office – a working visit without journalists, business delegations and a press conference.

Scholz said of the format before his departure: “It is an expression of the quality of the transatlantic relationship and also the good cooperation between the American President and the German Chancellor that we exchange ideas and talk very often.” There are phone calls and video conferences, but you have to talk to each other directly from time to time. “This is necessary in a world situation in which many things have become very difficult,” said the Chancellor.

Contradictory statements about tank deliveries

Germany and the US emphasize that support for Ukraine in the course of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine will always be closely coordinated. Recently, however, there have been conflicting accounts from the White House and the Chancellery as to how the commitment to supply battle tanks to Ukraine came about. Biden’s security advisor Jake Sullivan said last weekend that Germany had made the delivery of US tanks a condition for the commitment of German Leopard tanks. The federal government denied that.

The opposition in Berlin suspects that these irritations could also be the reason for the trip. CDU leader Friedrich Merz told the editorial network Germany (Friday) that one “may have to solve a problem”, namely that with the battle tanks. There are “a whole series of contradictions. Maybe they want to talk about these contradictions.”

At the beginning of February 2022, Scholz was in Washington for his inaugural visit. Even then, Ukraine played the central role. By that time, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers had already deployed to the border of the neighboring country. A good two weeks later, on February 24, 2022, Russia began the invasion. The conversation in the Oval Office, the US President’s study, is the only official appointment that Scholz has during his stay in Washington. An interview by journalist Fareed Zakaria with Scholz was then planned for CNN.