German Chancellor Scholz says he plans to speak to Putin soon

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Scholz welcomes Georgian Prime Minister Garibashvili in Berlin

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday he planned to speak to Russia's President Vladimir Putin by phone soon to urge him to withdraw Russia's troops from Ukraine.

Addressing a convention of the German Protestant church in Nuremberg, Scholz said he had spoken to Putin by telephone in the past.

"I plan to do it again soon. It's not reasonable to force Ukraine to approve and accept the raid that Putin has perpetrated and that parts of Ukraine become Russian just like that," he said, adding he would work to ensure that NATO does not get drawn into the war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS news agency that no talks with Scholz were currently planned in Putin's schedule.

Moscow and Kyiv both reported heavy fighting in Ukraine on Friday, but it remained uncertain whether Ukraine's full-scale long-anticipated counterattack was under way.

The counteroffensive aimed at penetrating Russian defences and driving out occupying forces is ultimately expected to involve thousands of Ukrainian troops trained and equipped by Western countries including Germany.

Russia fired missiles and drones at targets across Ukraine in the early hours of Saturday, killing three civilians in the Black Sea city of Odesa and striking a military air field in the central Poltava region, Kyiv authorities said.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Helen Popper and Mike Harrison)