On January 14, zeit.de published a letter from a number of “experts” on Eastern Europe and security policy demanding that Germany pursue a more aggressive policy towards Russia that goes well beyond the previous EU economic sanctions. The signatories call for an ice age, a new Cold War, economic blackmail, a strength-oriented confrontational policy by Germany towards Russia, the inflamation of the Ukraine conflict and the continued expansion of NATO directly to Russia’s borders. Diplomatic means of peacefully resolving conflicts and building mutual trust are denounced as “merely verbal or symbolic reactions from Berlin” that “only tempt the Kremlin to engage in further escapades.” Because that letter contains partly false statements, partly half-truths and shortened interpretations of facts it is appropriate to respond in terms of preserving peace and peaceful coexistence.Negation of Russia’s security interestsIt is an easily verifiable fact that the pledge of non-eastward enlargement of NATO in 1990 was part of the overall agreement to end of the Cold War could be viewed, for example, in a YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8rarwFKjw8) or read in a current study from the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles (https: //das-blaettchen.de/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/US-NATO -No-extension-Assurances-1990_long-version.pdf).According to the „Charter of Paris“ (1990), a pan-European peace and security order including Russia did not come about because the USA was already under the Bush Senior Administration (1989 -1993) and subsequently took a different path with the support of the West and NATO. The security situation after the end of the Cold War has deteriorated. This is due firstly to the military imbalances, secondly to NATO’s steady advance towards the Russian border and thirdly to the cancellation of international security agreements.
The facts about the military imbalances speak for themselves. According to figures from the Stockholm peace research institute SIPRI, global arms spending in 2020 was US$ 1,830 billion. At the top is the USA with 738 billion US dollars (that is 40 percent of global arms expenditure); they are almost four times higher than China’s ($193.3 billion) and twelve times higher than Russia’s ($60.6 billion). If you add key allies such as Australia, Japan and South Korea to NATO’s military spending, “the West” accounts for two-thirds of global military spending. Among European NATO countries, the UK led the way with $61.5 billion, followed by France with $55 billion and Germany with $51.3 billion. As a result, these three countries together also spend almost three times as much on the military as Russia. As far as strategic nuclear weapons are concerned, there were 13,400 warheads in the world in 2020 (also according to SIPRI), including Russia 6,375 and the USA 5,800. In addition, China has 320 nuclear weapons systems, France over 290, Great Britain over 215. The five nuclear powers, which are “official” according to the NPT, issued a joint declaration on January 3, 2022, according to which they regard the avoidance of nuclear war as their most important task, in full : „We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.“
In this respect, it is dishonest to now speculate about Russian nuclear weapons without talking about those of NATO. In the conventional area, the picture looks like this: active military personnel (in millions): NATO 3.2, including the USA 1.8, Russia 0, 9; Aircraft carriers: NATO 16, including USA 11, Russia 1; Fighter and ground attack aircraft: NATO 5,043, including US 3,002, Russia 711; Air Surveillance Aircraft: NATO 134, including USA 111, Russia 18; Attack Helicopters: NATO 1,290, including US 862, Russia 414; Main battle tanks: NATO 9,042, including USA 2,509, Russia 3,300; Artillery: NATO 26,271, including US 6,941, Russia 5,754. So who would have more reason to fear for their security, Russia or the West? NATO’s advances included the illegal war against Serbia, the separation of Kosovo, NATO’s eastward expansion and the refusal to ratify the modified CFE treaty (on conventional armed forces in Europe) by the NATO countries. Even after Vladimir Putin’s admonishing speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, there was no stopping: in 2008 Ukraine and Georgia were officially offered NATO membership; Georgia felt encouraged to go to war in 2008.
The ABM treaty (to limit strategic missile defense systems) was unilaterally terminated by the USA in 2002; in Eastern Europe, anti-missile systems have been set up, which are also capable of offensive operations; Cancellation of the INF treaty (to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear systems, 1987) by the USA; also termination of the „Open Sky“ contract by the USA. Only with the pro-Western coup d’état in Kiev in 2014, which was massively supported by the USA and some of its allies, did Russia finally feel compelled to give up its reluctance. The real facts had objectively led to a new threat for Russia and destroyed previously existing mutual trust. Gernot Erler (SPD), then coordinator for cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the countries of the Eastern Partnership in the Federal Foreign Office, emphasized as early as 2017:
The crisis „At first glance it seemed to be based on the Ukraine conflict, there is often talk of a violation of the European peace order, i.e. the rules and principles agreed in Helsinki and Paris“. But the question is, “why is no political solution found? The crisis seems to have deeper roots. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the conflict is not the cause but the product of a long-lasting process of loss of trust and alienation.” Strengthening security guarantees for all participating states and building trust between NATO and its partners, Ukraine and Russia as well as all other European states. In doing so, international discussion and contract formats as well as intergovernmental confidence-building measures must be reactivated or re-established. In this situation, Germany can play an important role given its geographical location and political-military position within the EU and NATO. It has to decide between increasing the conflict on the one hand and relaxing the conflict on the other. Demands that Germany should gear its foreign policy more towards Russia are aimed at further subordinating it to US policy.
The „West/Europe-Russia conflict“ has always been a US-Russia conflict. After 1945, European security structures were primarily the result of a security policy balance of power between the Soviet Union and the USA. This equilibrium no longer existed with the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty. However, contrary to Soviet and then Russian expectations, the USA continued their old containment policy, left armed forces and nuclear weapons in Europe/Germany, consolidated the system of Western Europe’s limited sovereignty, integrated a number of Eastern European states into their front-line organization and used this growth until the transfer of armed forces to the Russian borders. The establishment of bases in the Baltic States, in Poland, Georgia, the Ukraine and soon in Slovakia underlines this. In this respect, the NATO/Western Europe/Ukraine-Russia conflict is not a separate conflict from the Russian point of view, but essentially the conflict with the USA. Russia is preparing to clear this up. The only way to do that is by withdrawing the US from Russia’s borders (or by deploying missiles on Washington’s doorstep). The USA (President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken) seem to have understood this, otherwise they would not reopen various negotiation formats that Russia had not closed.
Direct negotiations between Russia and the USA remain the key to solving the problems. Back in the 1990s, Egon Bahr advocated a reasonable sense of proportion in relations with Russia after German unification: Europe as a whole is larger than the European Union could ever be, which is why it is required Stability for this great Europe „the inclusion of Russia and the republics that were formerly parts of the Soviet Union, to the extent that they so wish. Pan-European stability cannot be achieved without or against Russia, not without or against America.” Bahr pointed to a fundamental difference in the interests of Germany and the USA: “Perhaps in America one might believe that there are advantages to be gained from the ongoing internal and external weakening of Russia, so long as chaos is avoided and the nuclear factor remains controllable.“ For Germany and the EU, on the other hand, „a Russia that is consolidating is preferable“. Western policies of confrontation against Russia are therefore more in the interests of the USA and the effort to keep Western Europe under US control than in the interests of Germany and Europe.
We therefore call on the new German government to return to the cornerstones of Willy Brandt’s and Egon Bahr’s peace policy. Security for Germany and the EU is only possible together with Russia. This requires equality and equal rights, as enshrined in international law in the Charter of the United Nations, in the Final Act of Helsinki, in the Charter of Paris and in the NATO-Russia Founding Act. On these foundations it is indeed necessary to assume more responsibility for peace and security.
Signatories: For the WeltTrends Institute for International Politics: Dr. habil. Erhard Crome (V.i.S.d.P.)Prof. Dr Lutz Kleinwächter Prof. Dr Raimund Kramer Prof. Dr (Associate Prof.) Jörg Michael Dostal Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Ersil Dr. Siegfried Fischer Dr. Norbert Hagemann Prof.Dr Wolfgang Kubiczek Prof. Alexander Rahr Prof. Dr Wilfried Schreiber, retired Colonel Dr. sc. Wolfgang Schwarz Dr. Dr Arne Seifert, former Ambassador Dr. Hubert Thielicke Prof. Dr Raina Zimmering and Prof. Dr Norman Paech, Member of the Bundestag ret. . Prof. Dr. Werner Ruf Prof. Dr Karin Kulow Wolfgang Gehrcke, former MP Jochen Scholz, former lieutenant colonel Wolfgang Grabowski, former ambassador Prof. Dr. John Neelsen Dr. Jochen Willerding Dr. Michael Geiger Prof. Dr Michael Brie Dr. Werner Rügemer Dr. Kurt Kutschan PD Dr. Johannes M. Becker Dr. Rainer BöhmeKarl-Heinz Fehlberg, former envoy Alexander Lieven Prof. Dr. Ralf Havert zAchim WahlKristine Karch (International Peace Bureau) Reiner Braun (International Peace Bureau) Univ.-Prof. i. R Dr Dieter Segert Dr. Elfie-Marita Eibl Prof. dr Edgar Göll Dr. Petra SchlagenhaufOtto Pfeiffer, ambassador a.D.Dr. Werner Würtele Prof. dr Andrea Kleeberg-Niepage Prof. dr Michael Schneider Dr. Leo Gabriel