After her Lavrov visit to Moscow, the new German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is now being criticized by Focus and an open letter from 73 Eastern Europe experts, the full length of which is printed in Die ZEIT, which accuses the traffic light coalition of being soft and too willing to engage in dialogue in the spirit of Brandt’s détente policy. The German newsmagazine Focus claimed that Baerbock would not follow her creed of dialogue and strength when she performed in Moscow. Dialogue and pressure ala Helmut Schmidt’s NATO double-track decision are proposed (the natural gas pipe deal of the Schmidt era is not mentioned). After the former German ambassadors and generals open letter “Get out of the spiral of escalation! For a new beginning of the relationship with Russia” with Prof. Varwick and General Naumann, which was not mentioned, let alone printed or quoted in the mainstream newspapers FAZ, SZ, ZEIT, Welt, BILD, Focus, the so far fruitless talks between Russia and NATO, OSCE and Biden, although the latter was criticized for possibly tolerating a „small invasion“ by Russia in Ukraine, now the countermovement follows in the form of an open fire letter from 73 Eastern Europe experts and some politicians. The initiator is Ukraine expert Andreas Umland, analyst at the Stockholm Center for East European Studies. Signatories include Volker Beck (Greens), Ruprecht Polenz (CDU) and the Eastern European historian Karl Schlögel. In an open letter, Germany, „as the largest European economic power, has viewed the Kremlin’s actions critically but largely inactively“ for the past three decades. As a key country of the EU, NATO and the Western community of values, the Federal Republic has a special responsibility. This applies „both with regard to the containment and sanctioning of Russia and in relation to the support of the states dismembered and harassed by Moscow“. A “German special path” is lamented.
However, the EU economic sanctions after the annexation of Crimea were „mild and not a sufficient response to the Kremlin’s increasingly aggressive course“ and Germany made many mistakes. In particular, the German-Russian Baltic Sea pipelines would have “proven in hindsight to pave the way for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years later” (Nord Stream 1) and would “completely … eliminate Ukraine’s remaining economic leverage over Russia” (Nord Stream 2) . The signatories come to the conclusion: “Putin’s attack on Ukraine in 2014 seems an almost logical consequence in the light of the previous 20 years of German policy’s passivity towards Russian neo-imperialism.” Further „merely verbal or symbolic reactions from Berlin to Russian revisionist adventures“ would „only tempt the Kremlin to further escapades“.
The full text of the open letter (all signatories at the end):
Massive, menacing concentrations of troops on Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders, intensified anti-Western propaganda attacks that do not shy away from lies, and obviously unacceptable demands on NATO and its member states: in the past few weeks, Russia has fundamentally changed the security order that has been in place in Europe since the end of the Cold War on question. In its international self-portrayal, Russia presents itself as a threatened state that urgently needs “security guarantees” from the West. The Kremlin is deliberately shifting the meaning of security promises. The necessity of such guarantees has been discussed since the negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 with regard to the protection of nuclear-weapon-free and non-nuclear-weapon states. Today, more nuclear warheads are stored in Russia than in the three NATO nuclear-weapon states USA, Great Britain and France put together. Moscow maintains a wide range of delivery systems for its thousands of nuclear weapons – from ICBMs to long-range bombers to nuclear submarines. It has one of the three most powerful conventional armies in the world and a right of veto in the UN Security Council. This makes the Russian Federation one of the militarily safest countries in the world. The Kremlin uses regular and irregular troops, as well as the Russian nuclear threat potential, to wage various wars and permanently occupy territories of former Soviet republics. Not only in Eastern, but also in Western Europe and on other continents, the Kremlin is brazenly demonstrating its claim to special rights to assert its interests on the sovereign territory of sovereign states. Bypassing international rules, treaties and organizations, Moscow hunts its enemies around the world. The Kremlin is trying to undermine political processes, the rule of law and social cohesion in other countries with hate campaigns and hacker attacks, among other things. The latter happens partly in secret, but with the obvious aim of impeding or discrediting democratic decision-making in pluralistic states. In particular, the political and territorial integrity of democratizing post-Soviet transition states is to be undermined.
Trailblazer for Russia’s invasion
Germany, as Europe’s largest economic power, has been watching this activity critically but largely inactively for the past three decades. In the Republic of Moldova, Moscow’s revision began as early as 1992, immediately after the collapse of the USSR, with a massive intervention by the 14th Russian Army. Their remnants are still officially in Transnistria, despite repeated withdrawal demands from democratically elected Moldovan governments and corresponding promises from the Kremlin. The Federal Republic of Germany did not react appropriately to this or to the following numerous revanchist adventures of Russia in the post-Soviet region and beyond. Even more: With its foreign and foreign trade policy, Berlin has contributed to the political and economic weakening of Eastern European non-nuclear weapon states and to the geo-economic strengthening of an increasingly expansive nuclear superpower.
In 2008, Germany played a key role in preventing Georgia and Ukraine from joining NATO. In 2019, on the other hand, the federal government tried to get the Russian delegation re-admitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, although Moscow had not and has not fulfilled any of the conditions for this highly symbolic act. For the already fragile Ukrainian-Russian relations, the commissioning of the first Nord Stream gas pipeline in 2011 to 2012, which was superfluous from an energy standpoint, was a disaster. She appears in retrospect to have paved the way for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years later. A large part of the existing gas transport capacities between Siberia and the EU was not used in 2021.
Nevertheless, the Federal Republic is now preparing to completely eliminate Ukraine’s remaining economic leverage over Russia with the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. East political indulgences EU economic sanctions against Moscow since 2014 have been mild and not an adequate response to the Kremlin’s increasingly aggressive stance. Against the background of continued German-Russian special relations, German development, cultural and educational cooperation with the Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova created the impression of an Eastern political indulgence trade.
It does not diminish the importance of serious mistakes in German Russia policy, such as Putin’s invitation to the Bundestag in 2001 or the modernization partnership from 2008. These and similar German steps, against the background then and now of unwanted Russian troops in Moldova and Georgia, suggested Moscow’s special rights in the post-Soviet space. Putin’s attack on Ukraine in 2014 seems an almost logical consequence in the light of the previous 20 years of German policy’s passivity towards Russian neo-imperialism. The popular formula of „approaching through intertwining“ has acquired a tragicomic meaning. The geographical rapprochement of the Russian dominions to the borders of the EU has taken place. The Kremlin is now also questioning the political sovereignty of countries like Sweden and Finland. He calls for a ban on possible future NATO membership not only for post-Soviet but also for Scandinavian states. The Kremlin is frightening the whole of Europe with „military-technical“ reactions if NATO – according to Putin – does not respond „immediately“ to the far-reaching Russian demands for a revision of the European security order. Russia is threatening warlike escalation if it does not receive “security guarantees” – i.e. the Kremlin’s authority to suspend international law in Europe.
Germany must leave its special path (Sonderweg)
Against the background of such upheavals, Germany should finally leave its special path in Eastern politics, which is not only perceived as such in Central and Eastern Europe. The crimes of Nazi Germany on the territory of today’s Russia from 1941 to 1944 are not suitable to justify the German reluctance to react to the Kremlin’s revanchism and nihilism under international law. Especially not when – as in the case of Ukraine – it is about a Russian invasion of the internationally recognized territory of another nation that was a victim of former German expansionist efforts. The continued demonstrative violation of UN, OSCE and Council of Europe basic principles officially accepted by Moscow in Eastern and now also Northern Europe must not be accepted.
The Federal Republic’s Russia policy must be fundamentally corrected. Further purely verbal or symbolic reactions from Berlin to Russian revisionist adventures will, as in the past, only tempt the Kremlin into further escapades. As a key country of the EU, NATO and the Western community of values, Germany has a special responsibility. In the interest of international security, European integration and common norms, Berlin must finally close the gap between its public rhetoric and real practice in Eastern Europe. This should be expressed in a series of parallel and concrete measures of a political, legal, diplomatic, civil society, technical and economic nature. Germany is a major trade, research and investment partner for both Russia and the EU’s Eastern Partnership countries, as well as a leading power in the Union. It has more, in certain areas far more opportunities to get involved than most other western countries. This applies both to containing and sanctioning Russia and to supporting the states that Moscow has dismembered and oppressed. Berlin must follow up its good words with far more and more effective action than before. Signer:
Dr Hannes Adomeit, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Security Policy, Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel
Dr Vera Ammer, Member of the Board of Memorial International and the Initiative Democratic Ukraine, Euskirchen
Prof. Dr. Oesten Baller, legal scholar, chairman of the German-Ukrainian School of Governance e. V., Berlin
Volker Beck, MdB 1994-2017, lecturer at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University Bochum dr Carl Bethke, research associate at the Chair of East and Southeast European History, University of Leipzig
Prof. Dr. Florian Bieber, Head of the Center for Southeast European Studies, Karl-Franzens-University Graz
Prof. Dr. Katrin Boeckh, research associate at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg
Dr Falk Bomsdorf, legal scholar, head of the Moscow office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation 1993-2009, Munich
Prof. Dr. Karsten Brüggemann, Professor of Estonian and General History, University of Tallinn, Estonia
Dr Martin Dietze, publicist and first chairman of the Deutsch-Ukrainischer Kulturverein e. V., Hamburg
Dr Jörg Forbrig, Director for Central and Eastern Europe at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Annette Freyberg-Inan, Head of the Chair in International Relations Theory, University of Amsterdam PD
Dr Angelos Giannakopoulos, DAAD long-term lecturer for German and European studies at the Kiev Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
Dr Anke Giesen, Slavist, member of the boards of Memorial International and Memorial Deutschland e. V., Berlin
Witold Gnauck, historian, managing director of the German-Polish Science Foundation, Frankfurt (Oder)
Dr Gustav C. Gressel, Senior Policy Fellow at the Wider Europe Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin Irene Hahn-Fuhr, political scientist, member of the management of the Zentrum Liberale Moderne, Berlin
Ralph Hälbig, cultural scientist, freelance journalist at ARTE & MDR and operator of the website „Georgia & South Caucasus“, Leipzig
Prof. Emeritus Dr Aage Ansgar Hansen-Löve, until 2013 Head of the Chair for Slavic Philology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
Rebecca Harms, MEP 2004-2019, former Chair of the EU Delegation to the EURO-NEST Parliamentary Assembly, Wendland
Pastor Ralf Haska, pastor of the German Evangelical Church in Kiev 2009-2015, Marktleuthen
Prof. Dr. Guido Hausmann, head of the history department, Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg
Jakob Hauter, political scientist, PhD student at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London
Dr Richard Herzinger, freelance journalist, author and operator of the website „hold these truths“, Berlin dr Maren Hofius, research associate at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Hamburg
Dr Mieste Hotopp-Riecke, Director of the Institute for Caucasica, Tatarica and Turkestan Studies, Magdeburg
Prof. Dr. Hubertus F. Jahn, Professor of the History of Russia and the Caucasus, University of Cambridge, England
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Susanne Jobst, University Professor of Eastern European History, University of Vienna
Dr Markus Kaiser, social scientist, President of the German-Kazakh University of Almaty 2015-2018, Konstanz
Prof. Dr. Christian Kaunert, Head of the Jean Monnet Chair in International Security Policy, Dublin City University, Ireland
Dr Sarah Kirchberger, Head of Department at the Institute for Security Policy, Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel Nikolai Klimeniouk, journalist and head of the Initiative Quorum program of Europäische Austausch GmbH, Berlin
Gerald Knaus, Karl Carstens Prize winner of the Federal Academy for Security Policy and Chairman of the European Stability Initiative, Berlin
Dr Gerd Koenen, historian, publicist and author of, among others, „The Russia Complex: The Germans and the East 1900-1945“, Frankfurt (Main)
Peter Koller, managing director of the Schöneberg railway agency and author of, among other things, „Ukraine: Handbook for Individual Discovery“, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Joachim Krause, Director of the Institute for Security Policy, Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel
Cornelius Ochmann, political scientist, managing director of the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation, Warsaw/Berlin
Prof. Emeritus Dr Otto Luchterhandt, former holder of the professorship for public law and Eastern European law, University of Hamburg
Prof. Dr. Carlo Masala, Professor of International Politics at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich
Markus Meckel, GDR Foreign Minister 1990, MP 1999-2009 and German Council Chairman of the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation, Berlin
Johanna Möhring, research associate at the Henry Kissinger Professorship for Security and Strategy Research, University of Bonn
Prof. Dr. Michael Moser, Chair of Slavic Linguistics and Text Philology, University of Vienna
Andrej Novak, political scientist, co-founder of the Alliance for a Free and Democratic Russia and of Russia Uncensored Deutsch, Nuremberg
Barbara von Ow-Freytag, political scientist, member of the board of the Prague Civil Society Centre
Dr Susanne Pocai, historian, author and member of the Faculty of Life Sciences, Humboldt University in Berlin
Ruprecht Polenz, MP 1994-2013, since 2013 President of the German Association for Eastern European Studies e. V., Munster
Dr Detlev Preusse, political scientist, author and former head of the promotion of foreigners of the gifted Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, Hamburg
Manfred Quiring, author and former Russia correspondent for the „Berliner Zeitung“, „Die Welt“ and „Zürcher Sonntagszeitung“, Hohen Neuendorf
Waleria Radziejowska-Hahn, Germanist, member of the advisory board and former managing director of the Lew Kopelev Forum e. V., Cologne
Prof. Dr. Oliver Reisner, Professor of European and Caucasus Studies, Tbilisi State Ilia University, Georgia
Dr Felix Riefer, political scientist, author and member of the advisory board of the Lew Kopelev Forum e. V., Bonn
Christina Riek, translator, project coordinator and member of the board of Memorial Deutschland e. V., Berlin
Prof. Dr. Stefan Rohdewald, Head of the Chair of East and Southeast European History, University of Leipzig
Dr Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe, research associate at the Department of History and Cultural Studies, Free University of Berlin
Sebastian Schäffer, political scientist, author and director of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Vienna
Stefanie Schiffer, Managing Director of Europäische Austausch GmbH and Chairwoman of the European Platform for Democratic Elections, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Frank Schimmelfennig, Head of the Chair for European Politics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich Prof. Emeritus
Dr Karl Schlögel, until 2013 holder of the professorship for Eastern European history, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)
Winfried Schneider-Deters, economist, author and head of the Kiev offices of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation 1995-2000, Heidelberg
Werner Schulz, MP 1990-2005, MEP 2009-2014, former Vice-Chairman of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Kuhz
Prof. Emeritus Dr Gerhard Simon, former professor at the Department of Eastern European History, University of Cologne
Dr Susanne Spahn, historian of Eastern Europe, publicist and associated researcher at the Vilnius Institute of Policy Analysis, Berlin PD
Dr Kai Struve, research associate at the Institute for History, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Dr Ernst-Jörg von Studnitz, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Russian Federation 1995-2002, Königswinter
Sergej Sumlenny, political scientist, author and head of the Kiev office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation 2015-2021, Berlin Prof.
Dr. Maximilian Terhalle, Lieutenant Colonel R., visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science Prof. Emeritus
Dr Stefan Troebst, until 2021 holder of the professorship for cultural history of Eastern Europe, University of Leipzig
Dr Frank Umbach, Head of Research at the European Cluster for Climate, Energy and Resource Security, University of Bonn
Dr Andreas Umland (Initiator, ViSdP), Analyst at the Stockholm Center for East European Studies, Utrikespolitiska institutet
Dr Elisabeth Weber, literary and theater scholar, member of the advisory board of the Lew Kopelev Forum e. V., Cologne
Dr Anna Veronika Wendland, research associate at the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe, Marburg
Prof. Dr. Alexander Woell, Head of the Chair for Culture and Literature of Central and Eastern Europe, University of Potsdam
Dr Susann Worschech, research associate at the Institute for European Studies, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)
Back in March 2014, 34 artists from Ukraine and Russia living in Germany wrote an open letter to President Putin, including the writers Katja Petrovskaya and Vladimir Kaminer. They demand that Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine. The open letter from Russian cultural workers in Germany in view of the crime annexation in 2014, which has lost none of its actuality, should be documented:
Open letter from compatriots living in Germany, Russian-speaking cultural workers and representatives of civil society with the call to prevent a military escalation in Ukraine.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!
For several months we have been watching the development of the political crisis in Ukraine with trembling hearts. After a long confrontation between demonstrators and the government on the Maidan, the situation spiraled out of control and ended in bloodshed. The victims include dozens of protesters and police officers. Only thanks to the efforts of the world community was it possible to stop the bloody violence on February 21, 2014 and to bring about a ceasefire that has lasted to this day. Fearing prosecution, Viktor Yanukovych fled and found temporary refuge in Russia. In order to resolve the political crisis, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine called for early elections to be held on May 25, 2014. It’s also no secret that the Ukrainian economy is on the brink of bankruptcy. In this extremely difficult situation, many quarters expected help from Russia for the fraternal but sovereign Ukrainian state. We are deeply convinced that this help could have been provided: with the promised loans, with humanitarian aid or within the framework of expert consultations to reduce the political confrontation and to support the economy.
After the referendum on the status of the peninsula, the situation in Crimea has deteriorated. Vladimir Putin, who sees himself as the patron saint of Ukrainian Russians, is deploying soldiers on the peninsula. The military aggression is fueling fears in Kiev and has been harshly condemned by the West. Will there be a war? A chronology in pictures.
We were shocked by the deployment of special forces from the Russian military
We were shocked, however, when instead of humanitarian aid, special units of the Russian military were deployed to Ukraine, instead of experts, radical politicians led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, notorious for his far-right positions and chauvinist statements. You then initiated a vote in the Federation Council on the deployment of Russian troops in sovereign Ukraine. By canceling the promised loan and the gas price reduction, Russia is again causing severe difficulties for the Ukrainian economy. We are deeply surprised that in 2014 a modern Russia, which has experienced several foreign interventions and wars in the 20th century, is again engaging in armed conflict.
What should the Russian soldiers die for in a foreign country?
Many of us still cannot believe that you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, are ready to issue an order, after which Russian soldiers will be forced to fire from their tanks, mortars and machine guns at Ukrainian soldiers. They deceived the public when they claimed at a press conference on March 4 that government buildings, military bases and part of Crimea’s roads were blocked not by Russian soldiers but by local „self-defense“ units wearing Russian uniforms. You also said that Russian and Ukrainian soldiers are „friends“ and „brothers in arms“. However, when Ukrainian soldiers tried to enter the territory of Belbek airport at the same time, Russian servicemen blocked their way with warning shots and threats to „shoot their legs“. In this extremely tense situation, a deadly exchange of fire could begin at any minute. It should not be forgotten that thousands of Ukrainians on the Maidan resolutely opposed the armed special forces and are now ready to risk their lives fighting for their families, for their homes and for their homeland against the Russian troops. But why should the Russian soldiers die in a foreign country? Vladimir Vladimirovich, a Russian proverb says: Love does not tolerate compulsion. Ukraine cannot be taken to Eurasia with the help of tanks. The military intervention of Russia on the territory of the sovereign Ukraine will have fatal consequences for the whole region: It will lead to the isolation of Russia in the world and to the eternal division of the two Slavic brother peoples in Eastern Europe! We must not allow fratricide and therefore call on you to withdraw the order for Russian troops to enter Ukraine, to lift the occupation of all buildings and the blockade of all Ukrainian military installations and airports in Crimea, and to start dialogue with the Provisional Government of Ukraine immediately to start stabilizing the situation.
Berlin, March 7, 2014
Misha Badasyan. Performance artist, Berlin
Rimma Bobritskaja, concert pianist, Frankfurt am Main
Denis Chomtschenko, restaurateur, „La Tox“, Berlin
Alexander Delphinov, poet, Berlin
Marat Dickermann, chamber musician, Frankfurt am Main
Mischa Gabowitsch, historian and sociologist, Einstein Forum, Potsdam
Alexander Formozov, historian and ethnologist, Berlin
Vladimir Genin, composer, Munich
Sevil Huseynova, ethnologist, Berlin
Nikita Jolkver, journalist, Berlin
Wladimir Kaminer, writer and DJ, Berlin Julia Kassina, writer, Berlin
Wanja Kilber, artist, Hamburg
Alexey Kozlov, human rights activist, Berlin
Ilja Kukuj, Slavist, LMU, Munich
Andrei Kurkov, writer, Kiev
Sergey Lagodinsky, lawyer and publicist, Berlin
Sergey Medvedev, political scientist, Berlin
Sergei Newski, composer, Berlin
Katja Petrovskaya, writer, Berlin
Grigory Pevzner, physiotherapist, Marburg
Polina Pevzner, IT specialist, Marburg
Vladimir Rannev, musician, Cologne
Sergey Rumyansev, sociologist, Berlin
Mikhail Ryklin, philosopher, Berlin Boris Schapiro, physicist and poet, Berlin
Ulrich Schreiber, director of the Berlin International Literature Festival
Anna Shibarova, Slavicist and translator, LMU, Munich
Alexander Stoupel, scientist, Frankfurt am Main
Vladimir Stoupel, concert pianist and conductor, Berlin
Dmitri Stratievski, political scientist and historian, Berlin Julia Strauss, artist, Berlin
Dina Ugorskaja, concert pianist, Munich
Dmitri Vrubel, painter, Berlin