Ukraine crisis: does Berlin need to get tougher?

Berlin's partners are accusing it of putting too little pressure on Moscow. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz only considered sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has yet to be put into operation, after much hesitation. At the same time there are many reservations about German arms deliveries to Ukraine. Former chancellor and Rosneft supervisory board member Gerhard Schröder has now accused Kyiv of sabre rattling, which has further stoked the discussion. Commentators see various reasons why Berlin seems divided over Ukraine.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Learning the right lessons from the past

The Süddeutsche Zeitung defends the German government against accusations that it is not decisive enough:

“The scepticism towards military 'solutions', which fortunately still runs deep in this country, does not hinder German foreign policy. On the contrary, it's part of the responsibility that manifests itself in the frequent, controversial and also self-tormenting debate in Germany about the lessons of 'our' past. This debate, however, must not stand in the way of decisive action. ... In the event of a Russian invasion, Nato must support Ukraine, also with military material. At the same time, the aggressor must suffer serious political and economic consequences. ... That, too, is one of the lessons of the past.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Damned if it does, damned if it doesn't

Berlin can only move if Europe moves, comments Caroline de Gruyter, EU correspondent of NRC Handelsblad:

“Only if Europe becomes a significant political and military power within Nato can Germany change its course. Without a European framework, Germany would have to do it at the national level only. But then Berlin would immediately be at odds with the whole of Europe again and everyone would complain about it going its own way. But if Germany does nothing, as it is doing now, then it's no good either. Actually, it's never good.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

As long as Germany emerges unscathed

The German government's vague stance in the Ukraine conflict speaks volumes, writes Robert Schuster, Lidové noviny's foreign policy chief:

“Before the election, Chancellor Olaf Scholz made a grandiose declaration that if people wanted leadership from him, they would get it. Instead, his government is still trying to convey the impression that the only response to Russia's imperial appetite is to continue dialogue and cooperation or threaten unspecified 'tough sanctions'. Preferably ones that don't hurt anyone in Germany. ... Now Germany plans to deliver five thousand military helmets. Why not field kitchens as well? They'd also have a defensive character.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Only weapons can prevent attacks

Green politician and former member of the Bundestag Marieluise Beck calls for arms deliveries to Ukraine. She writes in Ukrajinska Pravda:

“'No weapons for crisis areas' - this has been the German foreign policy formula for years. ... At first glance, it sounds logical and ethical. Who would deny that preventing escalation is an important step towards peace? But what are the consequences of this principle in reality? Does such an attitude on Berlin's part always prevent an escalation? The answer is no. The opposite occurs: Germany's refusal to supply defensive weapons only strengthens those who attack.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Stop Russia from influencing Europe's power elite

The example of Gerhard Schröder shows how susceptible Europe's power elite is to Russian and Chinese influence, writes Dagens Nyheter:

“There is almost a complete overlap between the economic and the political elite, and business people are often used as agents or tools for political purposes. ... So more needs to be done to protect EU institutions from Russian and Chinese influence. People who take on contracts for companies owned or controlled by foreign powers should be automatically barred from working in EU institutions. There should be longer waiting periods before politicians can switch to business and stricter sanctions against people working close to the Kremlin.”