Undoubtedly, no country in Europe is more hopelessly embroiled in the Ukrainian quagmire than Germany.
The complicated imbroglios that have shaken Germany’s domestic and foreign domains in the first few weeks of Russia’s special military campaign in Ukraine are a testament to the country’s current conundrum.
Almost all of Germany’s ruling coalition and opposition parties have exerted unprecedented pressure on Olaf Scholz, the newly elected German Chancellor, to increase Germany’s military and financial assistance to Ukraine and stop dithering in support of Kyiv.
When Ukraine’s embattled President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeatedly admonished former Chancellor Merkel for cooperating with Putin and attempting to appease him, or in another symbolic act of protest against Germany’s long-standing positive ties with Putin, barred President Frank-Walter Steinmeier –who previously served as Merkel’s foreign minister– from visiting Kyiv, most observers inside and outside Germany, influenced by the vigorous psychological and media propaganda effects of the war, evinced sympathy with Zelenskyy’s harsh stance against Berlin.
The only exceptions here are some German political groups and peace activists concerned about the risks of the conflict spreading throughout Europe and the ensuing anti-Russian sentiments.
German philosopher Jürgen Habermas Moss, a well-known German philosopher, is one of the German intelligentsia who recently lauded German Chancellor Scholz’s apprehensive stance and skepticism over heavy weapons aid to Ukraine. The senior philosopher raised alarm about the reemergence of latent aggressive social impulses in Germany, the end of diplomatic dialogue in German international relations, and the dramatic shift in the German peace doctrine established after WWII.
Meanwhile, in an interview in support of President Steinmeier, former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel made rare criticism and revelations about Kyiv’s implacable behavior towards its giant eastern neighbor, Russia.
Gabriel credited Germany for helping to construct a bridge between Moscow and Kyiv that led to the Minsk agreement while criticizing Zelenskyy’s uncompromising and bellicose attitudes toward the Kremlin as one of the root causes of the tragic conflict in Ukraine. He even went so far as to denounce the Ukrainian government’s widespread and systematic corruption.
Germany, having been thoroughly vanquished in two world wars, is still technically occupied, lacks an independent military, and was only three decades ago able to realize its long-held dream of unification, thanks primarily to Mikhail Gorbachev.
Germany, on the other hand, has achieved dramatic strides in international trade, becoming the world’s fourth-largest prospering economy and the EU’s first. Unlike many NATO members, Germany and France, which head the European Union, are most anxious about the turmoil in Ukraine spreading across the European continent.
Germany, in particular, which was the communist Eastern bloc’s immediate neighbor and the first frontline in a possible conflict between the East and the West during the Cold War, is today also the most susceptible to a confrontation between the East and the West. However, German public opinion, which has been heavily manipulated by massive western propaganda, sympathizes with Ukraine and, above all, dictates German foreign policy.
In this precarious situation, the incumbent Socialist Chancellor, Scholz, inherited a vulnerable country that had been led by Angela Merkel, a conservative chancellor who had built strong relationships with Moscow during her 16 years in office.
Despite being a NATO member, Merkel ignored her Western allies and traded extensively with the Russians. The massive North Stream 2 project, which embodies Merkel’s strong aspirations of comprehensive energy cooperation with Russia, has now become Berlin’s Achilles heel as the conflict in Ukraine rages on.
The post-war defeated Germany, which for decades has been denied the ability to become a military power by the Allies, is now being accused by Western allies, particularly the United States, of failing to take tangible and concrete military actions against Russia.
Less than a decade ago, such pressures and expectations from Germany reached their zenith as former US President Donald Trump, in particular, vehemently urged Berlin to play a much more significant role in the Western hemisphere’s military arena and to join the campaign against Russia.
Nonetheless, no one, especially in Europe, is delighted with Germany’s rearmament, given its notorious modern history. Looking back over the last seven decades since WWII, Paris and London have been fearful of Germany regaining political and security strength, but now, ironically and in a complete contradiction, everyone is clamoring for German military engagement and support in the Ukraine crisis.
Following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, when officials in Berlin symbolically indicated that Germany would only send 5,000 helmets to assist the beleaguered Ukrainian army, it was perceived as a reminder of the Germans’ decades of military isolation and utter humiliation.
When Putin’s pressures on Ukraine increased, including the large-scale deployment of military columns around Kyiv, Germany, under duress from its western allies, finally announced that it would spend an additional 100 billion euros in the general budget over the next five years on new military expenditures, bringing Germany’s total military expenditure level to the Washington-target of 2 percent of GDP.
The decision both thrilled and frightened Berlin’s Western allies.
Despite the pro-Ukrainian and pro-Zelenskyy political factions in Germany and the country’s greater sense of arms support for Ukraine, and the German Federal Parliament last week endorsed a plan to send heavy weapons to Ukraine unanimously, Chancellor Scholz, given the longtime ties of his party with the former Soviet Union and under Germany’s famous “Eastern Ostpolitik” strategy, sees himself responsible for addressing the Ukraine conflict and wants to lead Germany to a safe shore in Europe’s troubled waters.
In defiance of US and British militaristic rhetoric, in his recent interview with Der Spiegel, Scholz revived the spirit of East German politics, professing his full support for Ukraine, though cautiously noting that Germany and NATO should avoid emerging as belligerent sides in the Ukrainian war.
He went on to say that all necessary steps should be taken to avoid a NATO-Russia confrontation, which may develop into a full-fledged nuclear war.
Mr. Scholz expressed extreme displeasure with the hasty embargos on the Russian energy sector, saying: “I do not see any embargo on Russian gas at all, which could end the war. Had Putin been involved in economics, he would never have initiated this irrational war. I will do all I can to avert World War III.”
Under such circumstances, Berlin and Paris are worried about the escalation of the war, and although the leaders of the two countries rushed to Moscow at the onset of the war to appeal to Putin to halt the hostilities, they are still attentively following Putin’s decisions, in the hope that the war in Ukraine would be brought to an end.