Since the beginning of Russia’s troop buildup along the borders of Ukraine, Germany has refused to join the Allies in shipping weapons to Ukraine. Despite being a major arms producer and exporter, Germany has offered little more than words of support and concern.
Last week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democrats (SPD), said Russia would pay a “high price” in the event of an invasion of Ukraine. His foreign minister, the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock, has made similar expressions of solidarity with Ukraine but rejected Ukraine’s request for weapons deliveries. In turn, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Berlin wants to “de-escalate” tensions and that supplying weapons would “not be helpful”. Moreover, Germany blocked Estonia from supplying military support to Ukraine by refusing to issue permits for German-made weapons to be exported to Kyiv.
In the face of widespread criticism, Germany finally agreed to send 5,000 helmets, a move that the mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko qualified as an “absolute joke”.
In the wake of this furor, the Ukrainian-Jewish community has published an open letter to Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Dear Mr. Olaf Scholz!
We, Ukrainian Jews, know what war means and what calamities it brings to all peoples and nations.
We, like many of our compatriots, acknowledge and appreciate the different forms of assistance that the Federal Republic of Germany has delivered to Ukraine, as well as Germany’s efforts to maintain peace in the region. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation continues to escalate its military buildup on the borders of Ukraine and the occupied territories.
Today, we all understand that there is a higher possibility of escalation and deterioration of the security situation in Europe, which may lead to a large-scale armed conflict with huge numbers of victims and refugees. Once again, the territorial integrity and state sovereignty of Ukraine are at stake – they were violated by the Russian Federation eight years ago, in 2014, and the reaction of the international community, as is now obvious, was far from sufficient to impact the aggressor.
Today, we are talking about the very existence of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state and, consequently, the stability of the entire European continent.
We are well aware of the priorities and values inherent to the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. However, today, in the face of a possible escalation of Russia’s armed aggression against our country, Ukraine, we call on you to take more decisive action to deter Russian aggression and help stabilize the situation in the immediate aftermath.
We take full responsibility for stating that, in the current circumstances, any opposition to supplying arms to Ukraine through NATO’s procurement system can only be interpreted as a concession to the Kremlin, a decision that is logically unjustifiable and morally unacceptable. We are all well aware of what the policy of appeasement can lead to.
On the contrary, supplying Ukraine with defensive lethal weapons can play a critical role in preventing the further development of Moscow’s aggressive plans. By voicing unequivocal support for Ukraine’s NATO aspirations and European Union membership, the Federal Republic of Germany will send a clear signal to the Kremlin of the futility of pursuing an aggressive policy.
Due to both historical reasons and its economic and military-political position, Germany bears a special responsibility for European security, as well as for Europe’s peaceful and stable development.
We are convinced that the Federal Republic of Germany will draw correct conclusions from the difficult lessons of European history and provide the necessary support to Ukraine in this most difficult of times.