Germany must wake up from its slumber, said the Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk during his impassioned appeal to the federal government to supply arms to his homeland. Given the drama of the situation, that was almost a flattering picture. Anyone who criticizes Germany for its supposedly soft-spoken attitude in the Ukraine conflict hardly imagines this country as a princess that you absolutely want to kiss awake.
This Sleeping Beauty is seen by his critics as a snored, fat, lying being that needs to be shaken awake, maybe even beaten awake, so that it can play an appropriate role in the world. Apparently, Germany prefers to do business with autocracies like Russia or China instead of helping Ukraine in its fight for freedom with weapons, said the American-Polish journalist Anne Applebaum, speaking from the USA, provocatively.
There is excitement in Sleeping Beauty land. “Words or weapons – where does Germany stand in the Ukraine conflict?” Anne Will had her program titled. That was quite polemical and quite off the mark, because guns are not an alternative to words in this conflict. But the issue of “weapons for Ukraine” has apparently become a symbol: firstly for the lack of persuasiveness on the part of the new German government and secondly for decades of German lies that have been cultivated for decades.
The big blank in the studio was Olaf Scholz, who has failed to convey to the rest of the world a German attitude that debunks suspicions that Russian gas might be more important to him than Ukraine’s freedom. His SPD general secretary Kevin Kühnert, the green doyen Jürgen Trittin and even Dietmar Bartsch from the left tried to close the Scholz gap – with addresses of solidarity to Ukraine and at the same time appeals for moderation.
Kühnert said with an extremely affected expression that Scholz’s position was crystal clear and that anyone who now portrays Germany as an “insecure cantonist” is doing so with bad intentions. Jürgen Trittin summarized the strategy of the West in three sentences, very confidently. There will be no military intervention should Vladimir Putin allow his troops to invade Ukraine. There are no military levers to stop Putin. What Putin is risking, however, is the entire economic and political relationship with the West. There is no doubt about that. But is that enough to convince Ukrainians who feel abandoned by Scholz and Green Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock?
Ambassador Melnyk indicated that it was not very skilful, as the Foreign Minister had argued during her first visit to Kiev: Germany’s historical responsibility dictates that it should not supply Ukraine with weapons. Does Germany have no historical responsibility for Ukraine? And how is it that Germany, despite its history as the fourth largest arms exporter in the world, even supplies autocratic states? “Germany,” said Anne Applebaum, “uses its history as an excuse.” Sleeping Beauty has to find answers.