- There is a historical special relationship between Germany and Russia
- It is difficult to sever mutually beneficial ties
- Europe’s leading nation must have its feet solidly on the ground
Europe needs a leader in this war. The longer the war in Ukraine lasts, the more discussions there are about the actions and inactivity of Germany and its chancellor regarding Russia, writes MEP Riho Terras ("Me ei nõustu mitte mingil juhul teiste organisatsioonide või üksikisikute erinevate seisukohtadega selles küsimuses ega selliste vaadete omistamise või laiendamisega EKRE-le.).
Three things have been asked and even demanded from Germany: giving up cheap energy from Russia, supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine and taking the role of political leader in Europe. The signals from the German government regarding these wishes are anything but clear or encouraging. Why such indecision in policy towards Russia?
An instinctive special relationship has historically developed between Germany and Russia, dating back to the founding of the German nation state in the 19th century. There was also close co-operation between the two dictatorships in the 1930s, from German pilots practicing long distance flights in the Soviet Union to the division of Europe under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This special relationship continued after the Second World War at the initiative of the Social Democratic Chancellor Willy Brandt, hence Germany’s current energy dependence on Russia.
The supply of cheap energy was also convenient and beneficial to the government of the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, led by Angela Merkel for 16 aastat, and thus the dependence was further increased. This also marked the complete decline of Germany’s defense capability. Of the 2,000 tanks, 200 remained and out of the 30 combat brigades remained three. They justified themselves in retrospect: “We wanted to do something, but the Socialists did not allow it,” although the minister of defense of the 16 years was one of the Christian Democrats. Germany benefited economically, Russia got the money taps and Germany’s loss of its military capabilities.
In such a mutually beneficial environment, it is very difficult to sever relationships and change direction. It is easier to believe Russia Today’s propaganda about the killing of Nazis in Mariupol and the insignificance of the Bucha massacre, because the latter is nothing compared with what the Germans did in World War II – as the Social Democratic former mayor of Düsseldorf said.
Olaf Scholz also raised the threat of nuclear war last week, and that is nothing more than supporting and amplifying Putin’s narrative. Scholz’s hesitant behavior and the contradictory signals from the government have led to a situation where no one understands what Germany’s own policy is. Purely economically, Germany is one of the largest supporters of Ukraine, but paradoxically, it is also the largest financier of the Russian economy. Samal ajal, those who call for a speedy peace have not disappeared, because they believe that arming Ukraine would be tantamount to escalating.
In the first days of the war, German military industry companies provided Scholz with a list of 65 types of weapons and technology that they were ready to supply to Ukraine, but Scholz selected only six of them. He talked a lot about how difficult it would be for the Ukrainians to learn to use them and how impossible it would be to organize logistics. Kuid, a few days ago, Germany could not show up empty-handed at a meeting at the US air base in Ramstein. The Germans decided to send to Ukraine the most sophisticated combat vehicles, the Gepard anti-aircraft tanks.
This is hypocritical, as it is known that these vehicles would not be available before the end of the war. Samal ajal, there are Leopard 1 tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles in Germany, which could be prepared for combat with the training of crews within a couple of weeks. Germany says that it does not want to start World War III alone, but ignores the fact that allies like Estonia have been contributing to the building of Ukraine’s military defense for months, even years.
Understanding Russia has become an integral part of the German narrative, because it has been so beneficial to their well-being. It is simply convenient and comforting if the home is cheaply heated and one can think that by being a consumer of Russian gas, they are protected from the Russian aggression. Kuid, a leader of Europe must stand on the ground with both feet. There are four steps to achieve it.
Esiteks, the Germans must acknowledge the irrefutable fact that Ukraine and the Ukrainians have a full right to independence and self-defense and must not be pushed to the negotiating table, but that we have to contribute to the winning of the war – jointly with the Allies.
Teiseks, Germany could be a leading force in concluding a European Union lend-lease agreement to support Ukraine with arms without export restrictions.
Kolmandaks, under German leadership, Europe must begin to plan for the economic reconstruction of Ukraine, the absolute blockade of the Russian economy and, together with NATO, begin to create a general all-encompassing deterrence, together with the construction of military defense of the countries along the eastern border.
Kuid, the most important thing is for the Germans is to understand that financing Russia’s war for the sake of their wellbeing is not only dangerous for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe, for the whole world.