Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 04.01.2018
Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel doesn’t think Ukraine should defend itself effectively from Russian aggression. Speaking in Kyiv on January 3, the German foreign minister said, “We in Germany are rather skeptical about the idea that arms supplies could help resolve the conflict.” It is difficult to think of anything that will give more encouragement to Putin as he invades Europe in Ukraine or that will be more demoralizing to the Ukrainian people as they fight alone to save their country and to save Europe. Gabriel’s words could have been written in the Kremlin.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. Germany gives no military training assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces, as Canada, the United States, and Lithuania do. Germany gives no weapons assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces, as Lithuania does and as Canada and the United States propose to do. Although Germany does not formally deny Ukraine’s sovereign right to self-defence, it puts conditions on Ukraine by saying “we in Germany” don’t think Ukrainians should defend themselves with the best weapons. Germany never criticizes Russia, by name, for attacking Ukraine with every weapon in its arsenal short of nuclear weapons. Putin’s army has used thermobaric weapons, cluster munitions, white phosphorus incendiary munitions, chemical weapons in the Battle of Donetsk Airport, MANPADs against Ukrainian aircraft, a BUK missile against Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and many, many, Grad rockets against Ukrainian defenders and civilians. Sigmar Gabriel and the German foreign ministry deliberately choose to ignore Putin’s war crimes against Europeans in Ukraine. Instead, Gabriel goes to Kyiv to scold Ukrainians for wanting to be able to stop a Russian tank before it shoots and kills them.
Much can be learned from what Foreign Minister Gabriel did not say. He did not talk about Crimea. He did not talk about Putin. He did not talk about Russia’s aggression or Russia’s war or Russia’s invasion. He did not talk about how Russia is fighting in Donbas with hundreds more tanks than Germany has in its entire army. He did not talk about how Russia has been firing shells and launching rockets and shooting bullets at Ukrainians in 2014 and 2015 and 2016 and 2017 and 2018. Most of all, Sigmar Gabriel did not say that there is a war raging in the heart of Europe, that Russia is invading its neighbour Ukraine, and that Ukraine is fighting for its very survival.
Foreign Minister Gabriel offered no apology for German engineering firm Siemens conspiring with corrupt Russian officials to break sanctions. Siemens worked with Russian cut-outs to ship turbines to temporarily occupied Crimea, thus giving material assistance to Putin’s invasion army that is the de facto occupying power on Ukraine’s southern peninsula.
Ukraine recently won a $56 billion Stockholm arbitration tribunal ruling against Gazprom and in favour of Naftogaz, thus protecting Europe’s energy security by encouraging diversity of supply and weakening Russia’s criminal monopoly through Gazprom. Foreign Minister Gabriel did not back down from or apologize for Germany’s support of Gazprom’s “NordStream2” scheme to wreck Europe’s energy security, damage the economies of gas transit countries like Ukraine, and feed Putin’s war machine that is invading Europe in Crimea and Donbas.
Germans should be thanking Ukrainians and begging their forgiveness for not being in the fight against Russia along with them. Germany should be providing advanced weapons to Ukraine, but instead we have the bizarre spectacle of Canada and the United States being the better defenders of Europe.
Germans who want to abandon their moral responsibilities – like Sigmar Gabriel – can pretend that “the conflict” is not a Russian invasion of Europe because Ukrainians are the only Europeans engaged in defence. Ukrainians don’t have that luxury. They have to live in the real world, which means stopping Putin’s army by any means possible. Ukrainians see Sigmar Gabriel for what he is. At best, Sigmar Gabriel is Putin’s Useful Idiot, emasculating Germany’s power to do good for Europe and appeasing Russia’s war against the West.