Realists or Russia hawks? Further demands for sanctions in the West
So far, the Western discussion has been limited to economic sanctions with a focus on Swift and N-2, including arms supplies to Ukraine. The troop deployments of the NATO countries to Eastern Europe are already considered normal. President Macron is now openly raising a very far-reaching military-political sanction for the first time, which has so far only been discussed in Western insider circles. The cancelation of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which excluded NATO military bases and larger, permanent and long-term NATO troop deployments in the post-Soviet states.
“Macron questions the NATO-Russia Founding Act
French President Emmanuel Macron moves closer to Poland and paves the way for a common EU position. One should not give in to Putin, says Paris. A „perfect match between the French and German positions“ was determined by President Emmanuel Macron after a telephone call with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Saturday afternoon. In the communiqué of the Elysée Palace, there was a certain relief that Scholz is not aiming for a diplomatic initiative this Monday in Kiev and on Tuesday in Moscow that goes beyond the mantra of „de-escalation“. According to the Elysée Palace, Paris expects the Chancellor’s visit to give President Putin „clearer signals“ than a week ago. After another phone call with Putin, which lasted an hour and forty minutes, Macron is no longer under any illusions about the remaining scope for negotiations. According to the Elysée, Macron sent Putin a “very clear message”. Moscow must expect a “robust, coordinated and unified response” should a military offensive on Ukrainian sovereign territory take place. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to whom he later reported, thanked Macron for „his personal commitment“.
Chair of the Battle Group in Romania
In the Elysée there is talk of „tough economic sanctions“ in the event of a Russian attack, but also openly about a revision of the NATO-Russia Founding Act from 1997. Poland has long been urging that the Founding Act no longer be regarded as a basis, since the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula is a clear violation of the agreement. So far, Paris and Berlin have always shied away from de facto terminating an international agreement. But at the most recent summit of the Weimar Triangle in Berlin, a new position was worked out with the Polish President. According to the Elysee, the deployment of missile systems and NATO troops and heavy equipment on the eastern flank is in the works should Russia violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and threaten „a corridor“ from Belarus to Kaliningrad. These plans go far beyond the expansion of the „enhanced forward presence“ (EFP) to Romania and Bulgaria discussed in NATO. France has already pledged to send up to 1,000 soldiers. It has now been confirmed in the Elysée that France is ready to chair the Battle Group in Romania. Between 2014 and 2020, France delivered the most arms to Ukraine with a volume of 1,631 million euros, ahead of Poland with an export volume of 657.5 million euros. In 2021, according to the EU’s annual reports on exports of military equipment and technology, Britain overtook France as the main European arms supplier to Ukraine.
According to diplomatic circles in Paris, the entire Founding Act is subject to be canceled in the event of such aggression. In the Founding Act, NATO makes a commitment to Moscow that no significant military facilities will be built on the territory of the new NATO members. Nuclear power France has long followed with great concern that Russia has deployed Iskander tactical surface-to-surface missiles in Kaliningrad, which can be armed with conventional and nuclear warheads. Skepticism about Moscow is particularly high in the diplomatic service. This was one of the reasons why Macron, at the end of August 2019, railed against the „deep state“ hindering his rapprochement efforts with Moscow. Macron learned from the failed „reset“ attempt. From the Elysée it was said that during his visit to the Kremlin, Macron found Putin to be much tougher and more unyielding than in the summer of 2019. Putin reassured Macron in a phone call on Saturday that no attack on Ukraine was planned. In Paris it is emphasized that there will be no “blank check” for Putin.”
Nikolaus Blume, who once commented on Springer and then again on Spiegel, also expressed the idea that the West should turn the tables. Don’t wait for Putin to invade Ukraine, but actively threaten sanctions and the end of SWIFT and N2 if he doesn’t withdraw his troops at the border, so act and don’t always react. In the ZEIT, Mathias Naß is now calling for further sanctions to be imposed, even if Russia does not invade Ukraine. The mere threat of violence was coercion, a breach of international law and must be punished, otherwise this would become a permanent condition and would be repeated.
„Five to eight / Russia: Putin’s political and moral impertinence
A column by Matthias Nass
Even if Russia’s president does not allow his troops to march into Ukraine, he has crossed borders. The sanctions against him should be implemented.
February 16, 2022
So if Vladimir Putin’s troops don’t invade Ukraine this Wednesday, as predicted by the American secret services, will everything be fine again? What if they don’t invade in the next few days, if they don’t invade at all, but return to their barracks from the Ukrainian border? Is everything okay then? No, then nothing is good. It is true that there is no element of coercion in international law. But the principle of a general prohibition on the use of force applies, enshrined in Article Two, Section Four of the UN Charter. This ban on violence includes not only the use, but also the threat of violence. Otto Luchterhandt, emeritus professor of international law at the University of Hamburg, comes to the conclusion in an as yet unpublished analysis: “The threat of the use of military force, i.e. the encirclement of Ukraine by Russian armed forces, violates international law.” So if Russia has broken international law by threatening to use force, then Europeans and Americans shouldn’t just let the prepared sanctions disappear in a drawer. Return to business as usual? Putin has terrified an entire continent and threatened it with military violence. He tried to blackmail Ukraine and NATO with his troop deployment. He has shared his rape fantasies with the world: „Like it or not, you will have to comply, my beauty,“ Putin said in an interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. This applied to Ukraine in the event that the government in Kiev did not implement the Minsk agreements on the future of eastern Ukraine as Putin envisioned. His actions are a single political and moral impertinence. But a great many people who are interested in it will say: Of course everything is fine now. In his conversation with Olaf Scholz, Putin relied on dialogue. He wants to talk about confidence-building measures. And the first units pull away from the border. It is time, many will argue, to get back to business as usual. (…)
Should the sanctions planned by the West in the event of an invasion really only come into force if the Ukrainian border is crossed? Hasn’t Putin long since overstepped the bounds of civilized interaction between nations? Yes, he has. And that is why the sanctions plans should be implemented – not in full, of course, but to the appropriate extent. In the midst of deep peace, unthreatened by anyone, driven solely by his paranoia, Vladimir Putin brought Europe to the brink of war. Should he be rewarded for possibly untying the „noose around Ukraine’s neck“, as Frank-Walter Steinmeier has demanded? You don’t put a noose around the neck of a person or a country. Even if you don’t close them in the end, the threat of suffocation remains a vile act. But if Putin tightens the noose after all? If, contrary to what he has now said, he orders his forces to attack? Then what was said applies anyway and requires no further justification. In any case, there can be no return to the agenda. Therefore, no gas should flow through Nord Stream 2 any time soon. And because the troop deployment can repeat itself at any time, it is correct that in the future there will be more NATO soldiers in Eastern Europe than before. Besides, it will be a deterrent if Ukraine has a well-equipped army that can better defend its country than it does today. Putin has rarely acted wisely and in Russia’s interests. That’s why he remains dangerous.
Now all that’s missing is an Applebaum column in the ZEIT, but Anne Applebaum is currently letting off steam in The Atlantic and generally advocates an active policy of confrontation by the West, which sets the pace, further sanctions and rearmament, and no appeasement whatsoever, as well as in her appearance in the ZDF at Maybrit Illner another NATO membership of Ukraine. It was already the mistake of the Germans and the French to have vetoed the admission of Georgia and Ukraine after the NATO summit in Bulgaria in 2008, thereby enabling Putin’s expansionism and aggression in the first place.
“Why the West’s Diplomacy With Russia Keeps Failing
American and European leaders’ profound lack of imagination has brought the world to the brink of war.
„Tragically, the Western leaders and diplomats who are right now trying to stave off a Russian invasion of Ukraine still think they live in a world where rules matter, where diplomatic protocol is useful, where polite speech is valued. All of them think that when they go to Russia, they are talking to people whose minds can be changed by argument or debate. They think the Russian elite cares about things like its “reputation.” It does not.
In fact, when talking to the new breed of autocrats, whether in Russia, China, Venezuela, or Iran, we are now dealing with something very different: people who aren’t interested in treaties and documents, people who only respect hard power. Russia is in violation of the Budapest Memorandum, signed in 1994, guaranteeing Ukrainian security. Do you ever hear Putin talk about that? Of course not. He isn’t concerned about his untrustworthy reputation either: Lying keeps opponents on their toes. Nor does Lavrov mind if he is hated, because hatred gives him an aura of power.
Their intentions are different from ours too. Putin’s goal is not a flourishing, peaceful, prosperous Russia, but a Russia where he remains in charge. Lavrov’s goal is to maintain his position in the murky world of the Russian elite and, of course, to keep his money. What we mean by “interests” and what they mean by “interests” are not the same. When they listen to our diplomats, they don’t hear anything that really threatens their position, their power, their personal fortunes.
Despite all of our talk, no one has ever seriously tried to end, rather than simply limit, Russian money laundering in the West, or Russian political or financial influence in the West. No one has taken seriously the idea that Germans should now make themselves independent of Russian gas, or that France should ban political parties that accept Russian money, or that the U.K. and the U.S. should stop Russian oligarchs from buying property in London or Miami. No one has suggested that the proper response to Putin’s information war on our political system would be an information war on his.
Now we are on the brink of what could be a catastrophic conflict. American, British, and European embassies in Ukraine are evacuating; citizens have been warned to leave. But this terrible moment represents not just a failure of diplomacy; it also reflects a failure of the Western imagination, a generation-long refusal, on the part of diplomats, politicians, journalists, and intellectuals, to understand what kind of state Russia was becoming and to prepare accordingly. We have refused to see the representatives of this state for what they are. We have refused to speak to them in a way that might have mattered. Now it might be too late”.
Anne Applebaum is a staff writer at The Atlantic, a fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and the author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.
Furthermore, Japser von Altenbockum in the FAZ settled accounts with the German appeasement policy and the peace movement, whose representatives have now come to leading positions in politics, business and the media.
„At war with reality German peace policy thrives on “never again”. But the principle has never been so perverted as it is now in the Ukraine crisis. When it comes to serving peace, no past is safe from the Germans. No myth is too false, no absurdity too great to avoid constructing the historical inevitability of German peace policy. This construction is the straw on which the generation of the peace movement clings, which, although there is hardly any left, whose representatives have risen to the highest offices and positions over the years.”
Essentially, the first myth is that it was Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik that brought about the downfall of communism and that NATO’s double-barreled fire only fueled the escalation. In truth, Reagan’s and Helmut Schmidt’s rearmament policy and policy of strength produced Gorbachev, the fall of communism and made peaceful change possible in the first place, even if Altenbockum still concedes that Brandt’s policy of détente promoted more free space for the Eastern opposition, which then became so strong under Reagan’s confrontational course that they brought about regime change. The second myth is the wrong instrumentalization of the past and the war of the 3rd Reich against Soviet Russia, which left behind a guilt complex that was thoroughly exploited by Moscow, especially since Putin presented himself as a victim and not as an aggressor, a classic perpetrator-victim reversal. With his justified criticism, Alpenbockum does not make any concrete demands, how he now imagines the new Russia policy in concrete terms, or even proposals such as neutrality for Ukraine, which is not even considered in such considerations.