Scholz rejects 'slanderous' criticism of his party's Russia policy
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejects accusations of being "too friendly" with Russia and delaying the deployment of heavy weapons.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reacted on Friday to criticism that his center-left Social Democrats have been too friendly toward Russia, as critics accuse Berlin of delaying the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Scholz claimed in an interview with the German weekly Spiegel that opponents have presented his Social Democratic Party (SPD) with a "distorted and defamatory depiction" of its Russia policy since the Second World War.
"That annoys me," he said, adding that the SPD was "bound into the Western and transatlantic alliance".
Germany announced Thursday that it has struck an agreement with eastern European partners to supply Ukraine with a new batch of heavy weaponry "in the coming days."
Germany has come under fire for refusing to supply heavy weaponry directly to Ukraine, even though allies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands have increased their deliveries.
Much of the criticism has been focused on Scholz, who has been pressed to take harder action even by his two junior coalition partners.
Germany not in a position to deploy weapons
The German government has stated that after decades of chronic underinvestment, the German army, known as the Bundeswehr, is simply not in a position to deploy the weapons requested by Ukraine.
Scholz stated in the interview that the possibility of sending armaments to Ukraine from Bundeswehr inventories had been "basically exhausted".
"What is still available will absolutely still be delivered," Scholz said, naming anti-tank weapons and artillery munitions.
Read more: Poland to convince Germany to send heavy weapons to Ukraine
Other top SPD members, particularly former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who works as a lobbyist for Russian gas and has close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, have come under increased scrutiny since Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently stated that Kiev had rejected his offer to visit Ukraine in a gesture of solidarity.
For years, Steinmeier, a former SPD foreign minister, promoted a détente policy toward Moscow with a major emphasis on commercial ties.