More Germans Say No Economic Warfare against Russia

December 23, 2014

Several leading German Social Democrats have come out over the weekend, calling for a new "détente policy" with Russia to cease the dangerous slide into "a military confrontation with unforeseeable consequences for all of Europe." Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Economics Minister Gabriel, SPD Bundestag group vice chairman Rolf Mützenich and others all came out in defense of the sanctions as ostensibly without any alternative, but they also stressed that the idea behind sanctions was not to have economic warfare with the aim of forcing Russia to its knees. The SPD statements are important, because the party after all is the coalition partner of Christian Democratic Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Gabriel said in an interview with the Berlin news daily Tagesspiegel:

"At the end of the day, neither Germany nor Europe can have an interest in Russia sliding into economic chaos. That is why the call for harsher sanctions is wrong. There are saber-rattlers not only in the U.S.A. who even call for a Ukrainian entry to NATO. As if we did not have enough provocations from either side already. This debate must be stopped. The aim cannot be to force Russia to its knees, but to bring it to negotiations for a peaceful solution to the Ukraine conflict. Instead, we should think about a new détente policy in Europe. We need the sanctions to make clear that we do not accept the breach of international law by Russia. At the same time however we need new negotiations for which Foreign Minister Steinmeier is campaigning so much."

Also former chairman of the NATO Military Committee and former Bundeswehr Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Harald Kujat (ret.) spoke out against any further escalation of the conflict over Ukraine, warning that a prolonged crisis may lead "to military escalations." Kujat said that it cannot be in the interest of Germany to work for the "restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine" (i.e., the return of Crimea to Kiev). That did not imply western recognition of Russian control over Crimea, but the recognition of realities, Kujat added.

Agreements between the West and Russia are indispensable, because things should not be left in the hands of the Kiev regime and the eastern Ukrainian separatists, since that implies the "danger of a military confrontation with unforeseeable consequences for all of Europe." Policymakers must see to it that the conflict in Ukraine does not turn into a conflict over Ukraine, Kujat warned.