Schönbach case: does Berlin have a Russia problem?

The German navy chief Kay-Achim Schönbach's controversial statements on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict are making waves across Europe. Even after his resignation, Kyiv has warned Berlin against playing down the situation. Europe's press takes different views of Schönbach's assertion that Russia does not intend to invade Ukraine and that it only wants respect.

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Polityka (PL) /

Trapped in Brandt's Ostpolitik

For Polityka, the largest party in Germany's governing 'traffic light' coalition is stuck in an outmoded way of thinking:

“The German Social Democrats of the older generation - and they are in the majority in the SPD - are still caught up in the logic of [former SPD leader and German chancellor] Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik with its motto 'change through rapprochement', Die Zeit says. This ignores the fact that the current situation is exactly the opposite. At the time, it was a matter of Germany recognising the post-war realities, above all the border on the Oder and Neisse. ... Today it's about Russia recognising the borders of sovereign Ukraine and Germany defending not only its interests, but also international principles.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Conflicting strategies exposed

All the fuss over the vice admiral's comments highlights the dilemma in the West's policy towards Russia, Ria Novosti writes:

“A high-ranking commander of the German armed forces and convinced Atlanticist talks about how important it is for the West to break Russia away from China. What we see here is a vivid illustration of the struggle between two strategies within the Atlantic elite: on the one hand, the 'ultraglobalists' believe it's necessary to put maximum pressure on Russia and China, and that it makes no difference whether or not they stand side by side - in short that the West has no alternative but to intensify containment. The others, the 'cautious globalists', think that by putting pressure on Moscow and Beijing simultaneously the West will only cement their alliance - an alliance they will not be able to defeat.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

He might have been right

Lidové noviny questions the angry reactions to Schönbach's statements:

“Schönbach did not deny the facts, such as the concentration of Russian troops. But he interpreted them differently. In his view, Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine. Rather, Putin wants the West to treat him as an equal. ... Schönbach deviated from the line taken by the government, Nato and the West. Some would say he missed the opportunity to remain silent. ... But here, too, it cannot be that there is only one permissible way to interpret the facts.”