In a recent interview with DW, Prime Minister Olaf Scholz called Russia’s aggression against Ukraine an act of “brutal aggression”, stressing that “this is imperialism and we will never accept it”. Internationally, he said the issue now is to show that “an attempt to move the border by force must never succeed”.
According to the German government, what is needed is tougher sanctions against Russia, cuts to Russian gas and oil supplies as soon as possible, and continued military and financial aid to Ukraine. But Berlin stressed that Germany would not act alone and would not risk becoming a real party to the war.
Scholz has been seen as hesitant about Ukraine, both at home and abroad. When it comes to providing heavy weapons, voices within his own government, notably Foreign Minister Annalena Beerbock and Economy Minister Robert Havek, have called for more decisive action.
Marie Agnes Struck Zimmermann, leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and chairman of the German parliament’s defense committee, said in an interview with German television network ZDF in April: “We still need to push the Chancellor. There is,’ he said.
Johannes Varwick, a foreign policy expert at the University of Halle, described the German government’s strategy as simply an attempt to “follow the lead of its partners.” He said the strategy does not represent a public direction of its own.
What does Germany really want?
Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin Andriy Melnik is one of Scholz’s most vocal critics and has been a forceful critic of the chancellor for weeks.
Last Friday, in an interview in Germany build “Militaryly, Ukraine is simply left behind in Berlin.”
Speaking to the media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland a few days ago, Melnyk said he suspected that Scholz had no real desire to provide heavy weapons and was “stuck until there is a ceasefire”. No more courageous decisions to make. “
German and French leaders called for renewed peace talks last Saturday in a three-way call between Vladimir Putin, Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron, but some capitals were skeptical. shows a point of view.
The London Telegraph said Monday’s call: “A negotiated settlement, such as the one sought by the French and German leaders, would mean a territorial surrender by Ukraine. […] By embarking on their own initiatives, Macron and Scholz also risk undermining Western notions of solidarity. Inevitably, there is a suspicion that they want to end this conflict not for Ukraine’s sake, but for their own benefit.”
Scholz was denounced by political opponents
German politicians have also accused Scholz of stalling on Ukraine.
“The Chancellor wants to delay the handover of arms,” Florian Hahn, a member of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) in the Bundestag and a member of the Defense Committee, said in an interview with a German news magazine. Cicero.
Roderich Kiesewetter, another defense expert from the CDU party, used strong words against Scholz on the TV talk show “Un Will”: The Russian army is out of the country.”
Germany’s hesitant stance on the Ukraine crisis has caused a number of political problems by its opponents, but Scholz himself has made his stance clear, recently announcing that “Russia cannot be allowed to win this war. Ukraine must exist.”
Still, deliveries of German heavy weapons to Ukraine have been delayed for a number of reasons, including a shortage of ammunition for the promised Gepard anti-aircraft tank, long obsolete in Germany.
Last week, the Ministry of Defense announced that the first 15 of these tanks would be delivered in July, with a further 15 by the end of August.
Foreign policy expert Johannes Varwick describes Scholz as “on the one hand leaving no room for doubt in solidarity with Ukraine, and on the other hand – not out of cowardice or incompetence, but out of government incompetence so much in the war.” I don’t want to — and I’m not enthusiastic about the possible side effects and risks of arms delivery.”
Russian mercenaries in West Africa
Mr. Scholz, meanwhile, tried to find allies for his strategy during a visit to several African countries. Germany is looking for alternatives to Russian gas around the world, but also hopes to tap into Senegal’s gas reserves in the future.
In Mali, German soldiers are well aware of Russia’s growing military influence in Africa. The military government there maintains close ties with Moscow and is said to allow Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group to operate freely in the region.
Scholz called their influence “devastating” during a visit to West Africa. The German Bundestag recently decided to end its training deployment in Mali, but the Bundeswehr will continue to participate in the UN peacekeeping mission Minusma. His soldiers will also stay in Niger, Mr. Scholz promised during a visit to his army.
Sanctions Hitting African Countries
For Africa, the biggest impact of the war in Ukraine is the high food and fuel prices. While this has had a significant impact on the purchasing power of the average German household, soaring food prices threaten to trigger famine in African countries.
In an interview with DW, Scholz pledged financial aid to the affected countries. But he refused subsidies to absorb global price increases. “But we have to start increasing gas and fuel supplies,” he said.
“We are trying to encourage all oil and gas producers to increase production so that the pressure from the global market is removed.”
But in South Africa, Scholz’s Ukraine-Russia strategy is not shared by everyone. Shortly after the war began, he already had five states voting against a UN resolution condemning Russian aggression. 35 countries abstained, including 17 African countries.
At a press conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, Scholz said such a vote was “unacceptable.” Ramaphosa emphasized the negative impact of sanctions.
little room for negotiation
Olaf Scholz also appealed to Russia and Putin’s self-interest in an interview with DW. As a result of the sanctions, “the Russian economy will fall back for decades.” For that reason alone, he said, Putin should end the war.
But despite setbacks, Russia continues its offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is now demanding that Russia relinquish all occupied Ukrainian territories in violation of international law, including Crimea, which was annexed in 2014. , the chances of peace talks seem zero.
Germany seems unwilling to press Zelensky to make concessions. A government spokeswoman in Berlin said last week that it was Ukraine’s sole decision to decide on what terms it wanted peace.
Specter of situations like Afghanistan
Mr. Berwick, a foreign policy expert, believes that “getting too close to Ukraine’s goals would be a grave mistake.” There are certainly other interests besides Ukraine, such as avoiding a direct war with Russia. We should avoid it at all costs. ”
He said, “It should not be taboo to pressure Ukraine to agree to a political compromise solution with Russia, even if it means losing some of its territory. It has produced results.”
Berwick warned that if Ukraine’s peace terms were unrealistically high and Russia continued to fight, Ukraine could face a prolonged war of attrition.
And that could mean that Kyiv’s allies will have to continue to help the country with money, weapons, and refugee aid. You may find yourself in a position similar to Thing: Years of financial, military and humanitarian engagement, with no pre-existing scenario or predictable end.
If Ukraine’s peace terms are unrealistically high and Russia continues to fight, Ukraine could face a long and complicated war. For Kyiv’s allies, that means they must support the country with money and weapons, and help refugees from this country for a long time to come.
This raises the specter of situations like Afghanistan — years of financial, military and humanitarian engagement with a predictable never-ending one.
There seems to be no exit strategy in Moscow, Kyiv or Berlin.
This article was originally written in German.
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