Wer hat die Ukraine verraten? Die deutschen Sozialdemokraten aus Hannover!
For several weeks or even months NATO’s member states have debated whether or not to deliver heavy tanks to Ukraine to better support it in its fight of self-defence against the Russian aggression. While Poland, the Baltic States and others are eager to support their direct neighbour, Germany is still hesitating. The latest evidence is from the meeting of Defence Ministers of some 50 nations at the U.S. Ramstein base in Germany on 20 January 2023. There the newly installed German Defence Minister, Boris Pistorius, again refused to commit Germany to the delivery of ‘Leopard 2’ tanks. He only stated that his ministry would now “… start checking the inventory of tanks”. Eleven months since Russia’s aggression started, this was a truly ridiculous, if not to say, impertinent, comment.
The Leopard 2 tank is a highly effective weapon. More than 2,000 tanks of different versions have been produced by the Kraus-Maffei company and have been delivered to many other countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Spain, and Poland. Several military experts have called this tank a potential “game changer”, which would allow the Ukrainian army to effectively push back the aggressor to its original borders before 2022 or even 2014.
Why is Germany’s government hesitating?
The answer seems to be complicated.
Firstly, there is the concern that NATO’s support of Ukraine could escalate into a direct confrontation with Russia. Since Germany has refrained from nuclear weapons, certain Russian threats seem to have had an effect on German decision makers as well as parts of the German public. Therefore, Chancellor Scholz is eager to closely coordinate his reactions with the U.S., his most potent ally to deter Russia. Still, one wonders why Ukraine’s direct or close neighbours, the NATO members Poland and the three Baltic States, do not fear that escalation but instead call for an effective deterrent, and why Germany does not act accordingly.
Secondly, more than 81 years since Nazi Germany’s attack against the Soviet Union, the Berlin government does not want to provoke another world war. However, Germany’s feelings of guilt towards Russia have not been replicated by similar attitudes towards Belarus or the Ukraine – former Soviet republics which also suffered terribly from the Wehrmacht’s ferocious attack. There seemed to be a clear “Russia first” attitude, which could be detected in previous statements by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Finally, there is the issue of personalities. What do leading German politicians like Steinmeier, former Chancellor Schröder or the new Defence Minister Boris Pistorius have in common? Answer: they all are Social Democrats from Hanover.
The Hanover connection
Mr. Steinmeier started his career in high office as Chief of Staff for Chancellor Schröder (1999-2005). Thereafter he served as Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister in the Grand Coalition of Chancellor Merkel. After his former boss, Schröder, went into retirement to work as a highly paid representative for the Russian government-owned companies Gazprom and Lukoil, Steinmeier was a key figure in further promoting Germany’s ‘special energy relationship’ with Russia, culminating in the second Nord Stream pipeline.
Former Chancellor Schröder’s ‘personal friendship’ with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin needs no further comment. See my previous articles in West England Bylines, explaining the unique fact that a leading Western politician became a highly paid agent for the Russian ‘Mafia boss’. Chancellor Scholz’s new Defence Minister, Pistorius, a former Minister of Interior of the SPD-led government of Lower Saxony , seems to fit this established pattern of ‘Russia first’ and might help to explain why he has been chosen by Chancellor Scholz.
The Turning Point?
There is a deep irony in today’s German politics: When the last election for the Parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin took place on 26 September 2021, there was no major war in Ukraine. Well, the Russian aggression had started already in 2014, but the German public still felt that this conflict could be contained by diplomacy. Germany was more concerned about ending the many years of ‘Grand Coalitions’ and focussing on the dangers of climate change, for which the Green Party received an impressive mandate. The SPD became the strongest party, after having promised to deal with social inequalities and modernize the country. Five months later, the new government’s plans were shattered by Russia’s grand scale attack and Chancellor Scholz felt compelled to give a major speech to Parliament, speaking of a ‘Zeitenwende’ (turning point) and promising €100 billion extra money for rebuilding the Bundeswehr. His first Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht did not seem capable of organising that ‘turning point’ and resigned on 16 January 2023.
As opinion polls tell us, the German public is clearly split on the issue of delivering the Leopards to Ukraine, or allowing other countries to export them. While many defence experts in Berlin, even within the government, strongly argue for it, the Chancellor is still hesitating.
It seems that Mr. Scholz and large parts of his SPD party, namely the ‘Genossen’ (comrades) from Hanover, are not able to deal with the new times. In 1939 the British needed Churchill to get rid of Chamberlain’s appeasement. Where is ‘Germany’s Churchill’ to act together with Poland and many other NATO allies to fulfil the U.N. Charter’s Article 51 – to effectively enable Ukraine to defend itself?