War in Ukraine: tanks or pacifism: how to stop Putin?

Saturday morning: A Neubrandenburg reader calls, has to speak to a Nordkurier editor. Of course, on the war in Ukraine, more precisely on arms deliveries and the state of Ukraine. It goes far, it refers to the Tsarina Catherine the Great (1729-1796). The ruler, who came from Germany, opened the country to foreigners and farmers were in particular demand. With their edict of tolerance, all religions were tolerated, except Judaism. Above all, however, Catherine II expanded the tsarist empire with wars and diplomacy.

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Tsarina Catherine II has already annexed Ukraine

As a result of the “three partitions of Poland” and the two wars against Turkey, Russia expanded by about one million square kilometers. Lithuania and much of modern day Ukraine, especially southern Ukraine, were incorporated. Including the areas on the Black Sea that the Russian military wants to retake today.

The reader explains that Germany’s interventions in Russia failed in both world wars. This is why our country must not hand over weapons this time. A topic followed by many Germans. A sentence from the interlocutor, referring to the conquests of Catherine II, makes you sit up and take note: “Ukraine has always been only a border country”.

Borderland, which implies weakness and lack of sovereignty. The term recalls the arguments of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denied Ukraine’s independence shortly before the February 24 invasion. A fundamental sentence of his television intervention: “The problem is that in the areas adjacent to us – I emphasize on our own historical areas – an ‘anti-Russia’ hostile to us is being created”.

Just to clarify: Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe after Russia. In a 1991 referendum, citizens voted more than 92% in favor of their sovereignty and independence from Russia.

The signatories demand surrender

Shouldn’t an independent country defend itself against an attacker? Is it not legitimate for this country, when it is clearly inferior to the enemy, to ask for help from its allies? Or should it not lay down its arms to protect its population and its cities, in the name of “good peace (in Western Europe)”?

These questions also lead to the discussion of an open letter from German intellectuals. Before the Bundestag vote on the handover of heavy weapons to Ukraine on Wednesday, the letter signed by Konstantin Wecker (songwriter), Daniela Dahn (writer) and Antje Vollmer (green politician), among others, was sent to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD).

The signatories are convinced that the Ukrainian army is “far inferior” to the Russian army and has “little chance” of “winning this war”. The price of longer military resistance will be “more destroyed cities and villages and even greater losses among the Ukrainian population”. The arms shipments would only prolong the war.

Ukrainians should “end military resistance”

“The first and most important step” to be taken now is the “stop of all arms deliveries to Ukraine, combined with an immediate ceasefire to be negotiated”. The Kiev government should be encouraged to “put an end to military resistance to the promise of negotiations for a ceasefire and a political solution.” The federal government should encourage cities such as Kiev, Kharkiv and Odessa to declare themselves “defenseless cities” under the Geneva Accords of 1949. “Thanks to the concept already defined in the Hague Land War Convention, many cities have been able to prevent their devastation during the Second World War “, the letter reads.

However, the authors are receiving heavy criticism, especially from Eastern Europe. Thus from the Polish author Szczepan Twardoch in an article for Der Spiegel entitled “Which pacifists stand for the executioner?” Already two months after the start of the war, many Germans were obviously convinced “that only Russia can be an actor in international politics, but not Ukraine, a state without an identity of its own, which is nothing more than a satellite of Russia, is the subject of power plays, “said Twardoch.

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“Russia does not negotiate with the defenseless”

In view of Bucha’s war crimes, he accuses the signatories of “taking the side of the executioner against the victims, simply because the executioner is stronger than the victim” leaving it unspoken who the perpetrators of the crime and who their victims are. Both the UN and the human rights organization Human Rights Watch now assume that it was Russian soldiers who shot hundreds of defenseless Ukrainians.

For Twardoch, it is only the Ukrainian army that stands between the Russian army and other potential victims. “The thesis that you have to lay down your arms and then negotiate with the Russians is ridiculous. Anyone who has even a taste of Russia will answer clearly: Russia does not negotiate with the defenseless. With the defenseless, Russia does what it wants, as it sees fit. . The only language that Russia understands is that of force, and only with the strong can it negotiate, “explains Twardoch.

What image do the Germans have of Putin?

Despite the war of aggression unleashed by the Russian president, many Germans still have a distorted image of Vladimir Putin, an overly positive image? One might often get the impression that NATO rather than the Russian president is to blame for the war in Ukraine. “Participants are opposed to arms deliveries to Ukraine and carry anti-NATO placards,” proudly declares the participant at Monday’s demonstrations in Neubrandenburg, which have gone from demonstrations against coronavirus measures to “demonstrations for peace” faster than a chameleon.

For Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister (2014-2019) and Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany (2012-2014), such views are misleading. “Vladimir Putin will only engage in serious talks if he can no longer fight. He moves into a completely different value system,” he wrote in response to the letter on pacifism from Germany. For Putin, human lives would have no value. The suggestion that Ukraine having to accept a ceasefire and holding serious talks with Russia might sound good “in welcoming offices.” For Klimkin, however, one thing is certain: “Arms deliveries save lives and distorted pacifism kills.”

The Ukrainian army should not be underestimated

Finally, Christian Zeller, who is involved in a European solidarity network for Ukrainian civil society, vehemently disagrees on almost all points. His letter can also be found on the Berliner Zeitung website. Underestimating the strength of the Ukrainian army is “arrogant, ahistorical and gullible”. If the signatories supported the capitulation of Ukraine, they would assume that “under the conditions of a dictatorship of military occupation and mass deportations of potential opposition figures, a vibrant civil society could develop, which could eventually persuade Russian troops to withdraw. peacefully. This idea seems decidedly grotesque. “

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