German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the idea that the world has moved beyond countries invading their neighbors has been dismantled by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Scholz was speaking during an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that aired Sunday when moderator Margaret Brennan asked if the war represented a 9/11-level wake-up call for Europe.
“I think too many in the world were hoping that we are living in a different world that is different to the experiences of the last century and the centuries before, where might and power, were deciding on the future of countries and not the rules and the agreements we have between states,” he began.
“We have had an agreement that there should be no attempt to change territory, to change borders, to invade the neighbor. And this agreement is now canceled by Putin,” Scholz said, adding that it was a “watershed moment of international politics.”
When Brennan pressed him about whether or not he thought Europe and Germany had been too complacent, he said they should have been prepared for this possibility.
“What is Putin thinking of? He is thinking like the imperialists in the 17th, 18th, 19th century,” Scholz said. “He is thinking that all about the nation is power, and that if you are mighty enough, you can just take territory of your neighbors. And this is an activity and an idea we cannot accept and we will not accept.”
He said he thinks all Western leaders can do to deter Putin is convince him it’s not working and that he will not succeed.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a reverberating effect throughout Europe. For instance, Scholz said Germany changed its approach to international relations, including its strategy to never send weapons to a country in conflict. The country delivered heavy weapons to Ukraine last month after criticism it was withholding aid.
Finland and Sweden are also poised to join NATO after Putin’s invasion led the two countries to pursue membership in the alliance.