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Why German politicians want to make peace with Putin

Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Why German politicians want to make peace with Putin
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

German politicians from the ranks of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) are increasingly inclined to the idea of restoring mutual understanding with Russia even if the aggressive nature of the Putin regime continues.

And now the issue is not only the plans of the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to “gradually” remove the sanctions against Moscow if Putin’s regime begins to implement the Minsk agreements. Steinmeier’s recent column in (the German newspaper) Bild am Sonntag has puzzled many by its categorical misunderstanding of NATO’s assignment in its confrontation with the Russian aggressor.

Simply put, Steinmeier stubbornly refuses to see Putin as an aggressor and prefers to accept what is happening in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea as a misunderstanding that can be resolved.

And this is not only the personal position of an experienced politician. It is the party’s position as well.

Those Social Democrats who are trying to return to party to reality have turned out to be marginalized in their own ranks. In fact, the SPD has become hostage to a distorted understanding of the “New Eastern Policy” of its great leader Willy Brandt. But Brandt had viewed the Soviet Union as a constant and was developing mechanisms for coexistence with an authoritarian state and its “sphere of influence.”

Where did Steinmeier and other leaders of the current SPD get the idea that Putin’s Russia is the same kind of constant? And that the West must create a “sphere of influence” for this anachronistic state with its own hands?

After all, the sphere of influence of the USSR was paid for by millions of lives of the citizens of this country — including Ukrainians and the massive destruction of Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic States and the other destroyed Europeans territories of the former empire. And now what — again?

This foreign policy approach makes Steinmeier an obvious antagonist of the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. And there is nothing unnatural in this. Elections are approaching in Germany and the SPD is trying to move away from its coalition partners.

After all, this coalition is not a love match but a marriage of convenience. And each party strives to rule without its partner. Or with a different partner. However, the pro-Putin position may play a dirty trick on the Social Democrats. Until recently, their “natural” coalition partners were the “Greens” (Green Party of Germany). The recent green-red coalition that was the last one where SPD received the federal chancellor portfolio (which was held, unfortunately, by the odious Gerhard Schroeder, who has been turned into a retired relic by Vladimir Putin).

And, theoretically, if SPD aspires to power it can also expect a new “red-green” coalition. For the Greens, it will be much easier to get into the Bundestag than for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the traditional partners of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU, the party of Angela Merket — Ed.) and the Christian Social Union (CSU).

But it turns out that the positions of the Greens and the CDU on the danger of Russia are beginning to merge. I would even say that the Greens in their assessments of Putin’s regime and the methods of resisting authoritarianism and aggression are more radical than the Christian Democrats and more honest than the  Social Democrats.

This is why in Germany today people are beginning to think about another coalition — CDU and the Greens. In that coalition a representative of the Greens would take the post of foreign minister and then instead of Steinmeier we would see a responsible politician in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs who would be thinking of how to strengthen sanctions and not how to help Putin avoid retaliation.

And this would not only be better for Ukraine. It would be better for Germany.


 

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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