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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Germany is unable to resist Russia’s revanchist policy”

What is behind the initiative to get Vladimir Putin involved in the Ukrainian crisis
25 February, 2014 - 10:13
Sketch by Viktor BOGORAD

We have heard recently increasingly popular calls to get Russia involved as an intermediary in resolution of the crisis in Ukraine. While before it was former Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov and some pro-Kremlin German political analysts who made such statements, these days it is representatives of the German establishment who are putting forward such proposals. They include president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, representing the Christian Democratic Union in Brussels, and head of the foreign policy committee of the Bundestag Norbert Roettgen in Berlin. In particular, Schulz said in on the German Phoenix TV channel the following: “I hope that Putin will realize that should he not use his influence in a most responsible manner, he will be the one to enable further bloodshed.”

For his part, Roettgen pointed out errors in EU policy towards Ukraine. “The EU is not able to develop a clear stance and act openly, without provoking the situation, so that Russia could be convinced that we do not want to take anything from it,” he was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle. To our knowledge, the EU invited Russia to the Eastern Partnership, but Russia did not express any interest. Moreover, the EU leadership clearly stated then that this initiative was not aimed against Russia. The latter ignored the Eastern Partnership until the last summit in Vilnius, when it became clear that Ukraine might sign the Association Agreement.

Overall, German Eastern policy raises many questions in the European neighborhood. Let us recall that it was because of the position of Germany, including Angela Merkel, that Ukraine did not get its Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the Bucharest summit of the NATO in 2008. It should be said, though, that then Russian president visited Berlin and Paris on the eve of the NATO summit, insisting that they reject Ukraine’s (as well as Georgia’s) application for the NATO MAP. We remember well what it led to – the Russian invasion of Georgia and loss by it 20 percent of the national territory.

This time, too, it looks pretty amazing that Germany again initiates Russia’s involvement in resolution of the Ukrainian conflict which it did a lot to foment. Moreover, the Russian government insisted that president Viktor Yanukovych use force against his own people.

The Day asked German and Ukrainian experts to explain the initiative of German officials to get Russia involved as a mediator of the Ukrainian crisis.

Dietmar STUEDEMANN, Former German Ambassador to Ukraine:

“First of all congratulations to the people of Ukraine. It was a victory paid with blood. But it was the determined wish and will of the Ukrainians to live self determined and free of pressure from inside and outside of their country that led to these really historical results.

“I still vividly remember the Orange Revolution and how enthusiastically it was celebrated. In the aftermath however traumatic mistakes brought the country down. I hope very much that this will be a lesson. The people showed so much courage and solidarity that it should resist the temptation of revenge. The country and its political class is confronted with a huge task. Ukraine has to invent itself as a state of law, with democratic institutions, which ensure the control of power and to strengthen a society, which defends the integrity of the state by accepting divergent historical experiences.

“With respect to the remarks of Martin Schulz, the chairman of the European Parliament, and of Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag my understanding is the following: it would be a misunderstanding to start from the assumption that European/German – Ukrainian relations are determined by relations with Russia. But Russia is a substantial factor in Europe and in Ukraine also, whether we like it or not. Russia has definitely no droit de regard in European affairs and Ukrainian matters. But for the sake of security, stability, and prosperity we have to do everything to keep Russia engaged. The best way to achieve this is to create conditions for relations on the basis of equality. Russia has still to go a long way to accept that zero sum games and regional domination are not any longer political tools. In a more and more interdependent world good neighborly relations, compromise and common strategies to secure stability and prosperity are basic elements to confront global challenges. That is in sum the gist of what both politicians intended to say.”

Hryhorii PEREPELYTSIA, Doctor of Political Sciences, conflict resolution expert, professor of Kyiv Shevchenko National University:

“The Germans play their own game, double dealing in the EU and in Eastern policy. As the leader of the EU, Germany is trying to use the EU as a tool of German foreign policy. This trend is a challenge to the integrity of the EU. We see no clear consensus among the German political class on Germany’s eastern policy in general and Russian policy in particular. These delays with instituting sanctions were related to the fact that some German politicians were worrying about these steps undermining interests of Russia. A strong grouping of German political class has already formed which is clearly focused on the Russian market and resources. Then, the question of values in them fades into the background, and economic and business interests of Germany come first. In this sense, we see a certain concept of this new eastern policy of Germany being created, which is to create a Russian-German duo in the east.

“To avoid dividing lines and regional confrontation, Germany prefers to avoid confrontation by creating a certain condominium with Russia over Eastern Europe. Russia controls Belarus which is recognized as its area of interest, and creates a condominium over Ukraine with Germany. Let Ukraine be Russia’s geopolitical sphere of influence, but Germany should have its own economic preferences in this area. This suggests that Germany is unable to resist Russia’s revanchist policy. And Ukraine is now in a very difficult situation, transforming into a buffer zone, which contestants are starting to divide.

“The Euromaidan spoiled the whole geopolitical layout. They now do not know what to do with it, as it has made it clear that modern independent Ukrainian nation emerged in place of post-Soviet population. They are very afraid of this phenomenon, because for them it absolutely does not fit into these global structures of global governance.

“Therefore, the consensus, which the Germans and the Russians are looking for, is to extinguish the problem as quickly as possible. But there is another problem, as the Euromaidan raised the issue of European values. Ukrainians have shown that they are willing not only to share European values, but pay for them with blood. And it was a shock to the Germans, who have forgotten that democracy must be paid with blood sometimes, when there is a threat to democracy.

“So the Germans are, first, afraid to take responsibility for the full settlement of the conflict. And secondly, they are afraid to step on Russian interests. Therefore, they see a condominium as a suitable solution.

“Germany is ready to surrender Ukraine to Russia at any moment. It did so before in 2008 at the Bucharest summit. This means that Russia has its own sphere of geopolitical influence in Europe. Moreover, it expands its sphere. After Ukraine, it will set its aims at the Central Europe, throwing us back into 1938. It could threaten the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Poland. In fact, we have already got into the situation last seen in 1938. It is now Munich again, this time between Russia and Germany.”

By Mykola SIRUK, The Day