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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

On letter of so-called “German intellectuals”

Andreas UMLAND: “Russia wants to create the impression that the European elite supports Vladimir Putin’s actions”
16 April, 2014 - 18:20

Russian media have recently been republishing a letter of so-called “German intellectuals,” stating their support for Russia’s actions on Ukraine. The letter, signed by about 200 people, is addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The signatories call him their “comrade” and justify his actions in Crimea.

In particular, the letter states that the Russian military occupation of Crimea is both “a defensive measure and a warning about where the red line is.” The signatories explain this step by danger “to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet that comes from Maidan’s violence-prone groups.”

Another strange passage of the text reads as follows: “Russia never made its 27 million dead in World War II an instrument of the Cold War against Germany.” What about Ukrainians, Belarusians, and other ethnicities? After all, even secretaries of the CPSU Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev put the number of deaths at some 20 million. In addition, according to Soviet estimates, more than 7 million Ukrainians died due to World War II, and nearly 2.4 million people were transported from Ukraine to labor camps in Germany.

Meanwhile, head of the delegation of the Bundestag’s Committee on European Union Affairs Gunther Krichbaum said in Kyiv on April 14 that the German society was roundly condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine. “In Germany, there are very few people who would say ‘Yes, Putin is absolutely right.’ Anyway, I do not know anybody with such a position,” Krichbaum was quoted as saying by UNIAN.

The Day asked Candidate of Science in History and Political Science, Associate Professor of Political Science at Kyiv Mohyla Academy Andreas UMLAND to comment on the letter of German intellectuals:

“I reviewed the list of signatories and was unable to recognize even one of them. They probably just collected signatures of people known for their positive attitude to Putin. I cannot say whether they are really intellectuals. Some, no doubt, are members of the Left Party of Germany, which is particularly strong in East Germany. There could be some representatives of West Germany there, too.

“I would not say that this document is an indicative one. Such a letter could be written to support any ruler of any country.

“What is the cause behind this letter’s appearance? Perhaps someone wants to create the impression that the Russian government’s actions on Ukraine are justified. Most likely, it was made for the Russian domestic consumption. With these letters, Russia wants to create the impression at home that the European elite supports Putin’s actions.

“In fact, the picture in Germany is more complicated. Most of the German political and intellectual elite displays a very negative attitude to the recent actions of Russia on Ukraine. However, there is a minority, which includes former Social Democrats and representatives of the Left Party as well as plain Russian lobbyists, like former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who finds a justification for Russia’s actions. These voices resonate in German society. In general, the Germans are not ardent supporters of sanctions against Russia. This is probably partly due to efforts of pro-Russian German commentators.

“How can the West counteract Russia now? On the one hand, there has to be economic and technical support for Ukraine. I do not think that would be any direct military support, because Ukraine is not a member of NATO. The West may supply arms, provide economic and financial assistance.

“On the other hand, there have to be painful economic sanctions against Russia, but the problem here is that they would be painful for the West, too, especially for the EU, because there is a degree of interdependence between the EU and Russia. But in the end, the EU should go that way, for otherwise it will lose face.”

By Ihor SAMOKYSH, The Day