The answer isn’t expected to please the German leader.
For the two leaders, the irony will be wearily apparent. At the outset of the war it was Scholz who took his lead from Biden. Germany was the main laggard on providing military aid to Ukraine — and it was Biden who pushed Scholz’s government to do much more. At the time, the Germans, fearful of being drawn into a spiraling conflict with Putin, refused to send heavy arms to Ukraine until the Americans and other NATO allies did so first.
That dynamic hasn’t entirely disappeared. Despite repeated requests from Ukraine, Scholz has thus far refused to provide Ukraine with Taurus long-range cruise missiles, fearful the Ukrainians could use them to attack targets in Russia. The U.K. and France, meanwhile, have provided cruise missiles.
Now the burden is increasingly on Scholz to take the lead. Germany is second only to the U.S. in providing military aid to Ukraine, having given €17.1 billion in assistance through October of last year, according to a tally by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The U.K., by contrast, has provided €6.57 billion, while France has contributed a mere €0.54 billion.
In light of those numbers, Scholz has been pushing European nations to provide more aid to Ukraine, and has also voiced irritation that Germany hasn’t shaken its reputation as a ditherer on Ukraine despite the help it has provided.
“I’m irritated over the constant criticism Germany faces because the government is supposedly not doing enough and is too reluctant to act,” he said in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit. “We’ve done more than any other EU country — a lot more. That’s why I’m on the phone a lot asking my counterparts to do more.”