(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government held firm on its refusal to supply weapons to Ukraine, conceding that its stance is at odds with key allies but insisting it will confront Russia robustly in the event of an incursion.

Europe’s largest economy has a long-standing policy against the export of lethal weapons to conflict zones, deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann told reporters in Berlin on Monday after a wave of criticism of the country’s position.

“Of course, the German government realizes that some of its allies have a different position here,” she said. “But our position has not changed.”

The pushback followed a bruising run of allegations that Scholz’s administration was leaving the U.S. in the lurch with a muddled approach to thwarting Russian aggression toward Ukraine. Confusion over the German government’s intentions risk exacerbating investor jitters over the threat of war in Europe, while also tarnishing the reputation of Scholz’s three-way coalition as it faces its first international crisis. 

“German credibility is eroding before our eyes,” Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of the U.S. Army in Europe, said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

Questions over Germany’s commitment to its NATO allies were fueled by the head of Germany’s Navy urging “respect” for President Vladimir Putin. Although he quit as a result on Saturday, the comments prompted Ukraine’s government to summon the German ambassador in protest. 

Scholz was also subjected to criticism for turning down an invitation for urgent talks with President Joe Biden. Citing a prior appointment, Scholz instead sought a later date to visit Washington. The White House has denied the incident, which was first reported by Spiegel magazine, while the German government didn’t comment.

The developments added to suspicions that Germany is unwilling to take a hard line on Russia because of historical and economic ties. Doubts linger over the new administration’s willingness to target the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. 

Scholz, who succeeded Angela Merkel in December, only last week clarified that his government stands by an accord reached with the U.S. last summer over the controversial gas link to Russia. Under the pact, Germany agreed to take punitive action against the pipeline -- which bypasses transit through Ukraine -- if the Kremlin weaponizes energy.

Despite Scholz’s assurances that Germany stands by the U.S. and that Russian aggression against the Ukraine would carry a “high price,” the questions over Germany’s true resolve keep coming.  

“Is Germany a Reliable American Ally? Nein,” ran an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

The country appears isolated as some allies send so-called defensive weapons to the Kyiv government or dispatch forces to the wider region in response to Russia’s continued military buildup on the Ukraine border. Berlin’s refusal to do likewise looked all the more suspect when the Wall Street Journal reported that Germany had blocked a shipment of Cold War-era Howitzers from Estonia to Ukraine. 

The artillery guns are old equipment from the former East German army. They were originally sent to Finland and then transferred to Estonia, which now wants to send them to Ukraine. Germany still has a say on their use under the original agreement. Hoffmann, the government spokeswoman, left the door open, saying the case was still being reviewed.   

Despite growing pressure from its Western allies, Germany is unlikely to change its policy on weapons exports, according to a separate government official in Berlin, who cited Germany’s special responsibility because of its role in World War II. The official asked not to be named discussing coalition strategy.

Berlin is engaged in a “close, trustful” dialogue with the Ukrainian government, and “there’s a lot of agreement, but also differences on the known topics,” Hoffmann said.  

Still, the appearance of equivocation adds to a widespread impression that Germany is reluctant to confront Russia. Doubters point to former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a Social Democrat like Scholz. He joined the board of Russias gas giant Gazprom PJSC months after leaving office in 2005 and has maintained public closeness to Putin -- who has denied plans to attack Ukraine.

One person familiar with the thinking in the Chancellery in Berlin said that while there is a debate about a so-called Germany problem, it’s wrong to paint Berlin as an unreliable partner. There are misconceptions about Germany’s position based on prejudices that have to be disentangled, the person said. 

The coalition is united around its position to build up a credible deterrence while at the same time keeping open a dialog with Russia, said the person, who described it as a balancing act with each step being weighed against the chances of escalating or de-escalating tensions.

Against the backdrop of Berlin’s deliberations, calls for greater clarity from Berlin are getting louder and closer. 

“How many in Berlin are actually aware of how massively our confusing Ukraine policy not only harms Germany, but the entire EU?” said Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the U.S. and head of the Munich Security Conference.  

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