The Russian invasion of Ukraine has opened the eyes of Germany, where until a month ago it was unthinkable that the government would consider sending offensive weapons to a country at war or rearming its hitherto underfunded army. But the escalation of violence unleashed by Putin has marked a turning point. The time of appeasement and taking a back seat to foreign and security policy issues is over for Berlin. “No country, not even Germany, can be neutral in matters of war and peace,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday. The Government is preparing to create a national security strategy – the first project of its kind in the history of the Federal Republic – and, among other things, this new plan will imply assuming greater responsibility within NATO.
“For us, for me, there is a special responsibility for Germany’s guilt in the war and genocide,” Baerbock said during the presentation of the work to develop the strategy that his ministry will coordinate, but will involve various government departments. “This means that we have an obligation to support those whose lives, freedoms and rights are threatened,” he added. The minister presented her new strategy the day after the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, criticized in the Bundestag the excessive closeness of Berlin to the Kremlin, prioritizing economic issues over all others.
The war that Vladimir Putin has started in Ukraine confronts Germany “with a new reality in terms of security”, assured the minister, who anticipated that Berlin will have a clear position, greater capacity for action and more foreign and security policy instruments. accurate. “In light of Russia’s radical break with our peace order, we must put our guiding principles into practice,” she stressed.
The radical turn of German foreign and defense policy occurred three weeks ago, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivered a historic speech in the Bundestag in which he promised 100 billion euros for the Army. The decisions have been taking shape since then: Berlin announced this week the purchase of 35 American-made F-35 fighters, considered the most modern combat aircraft in the world and capable of carrying nuclear bombs.
The new security policy will go beyond renewed military effort and diplomacy, Baerbock said. The strategy must be linked to the policies of the European Union and NATO. And although it was the Russian invasion that triggered the new German approach, the creation of a security plan was already contemplated in the coalition agreement signed by Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals last December.
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a more active role
Germany will take a more active role and assume more responsibility in the Atlantic Alliance, the foreign minister said. The war shows “once again that security depends on NATO’s ability to form alliances.” The strengthening of the eastern flank and “military exercises adapted to the new realities” will be key at this stage, because “the entire eastern area of the Alliance is subject to a new threat,” she stressed. Therefore, it is necessary to establish the Alliance’s presence in the countries of southeastern Europe, she added, and ensure that “NATO’s nuclear deterrent remains credible.” Baerbock’s announcement came a day after the visit to Berlin of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who once again ratified his rejection of the intervention of troops in Ukraine because, if he did, the Alliance would become “in part of the conflict”.
The new German security strategy will also address the delicate relations with China. Berlin must become independent from fossil energy imports, Baerbock assured, but taking care not to fall into new economic dependencies. “Now we have verified that a unilateral economic orientation makes us vulnerable”, he stated, in one of the few examples of self-criticism that have been heard these days from German politicians. Germany these weeks has begun to review its past relations with Russia, but the debate is still more focused on the academic field than on that of policymakers. “What is crucial is that we do not allow ourselves to be banished to silence, that we do not swallow things because we are economically or energetically dependent, but that we take a stand, even when it is difficult,” he stressed.
Scholz asks Putin for a ceasefire
Diplomatic efforts by Western leaders to stop the war continue. The German chancellor has been the last to speak with the Russian president. Olaf Scholz again urged Vladimir Putin to declare “a ceasefire as quickly as possible” during a telephone conversation between the two early Friday morning. According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry spokesman, the leaders spoke for more than an hour about the war “and the efforts to end it.” The German chancellor insisted that the humanitarian situation must be improved and progress must be made to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict, the spokesman added.
The story of the Russian news agencies provides another content. Putin reportedly told the German chancellor that Ukraine is trying to delay talks with Russia by presenting unrealistic proposals. Despite this, he claims to be willing to continue the negotiations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Putin’s call with Scholz had been harsh but professional, according to Reuters.