At the end of the week, the media space was blown up by the statement of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. The head of the German Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, January 25, said that Europe is “at war with Russia.”
Problems in the heads
Literally, Annalena Baerbock’s remark reads as follows: “… yes, we must do more to protect Ukraine, yes, we must do more with regard to tanks. But the most important and decisive thing is that we do this together, and not play the game of “find the culprit” in Europe, because we are waging war against Russia, not against each other.” This is not the first resonant statement of a major European official.
Over the past year, Josep Borrell, Olaf Scholz, Charles Michel, Liz Truss and others have added their names to the World Citation Fund – and more than once.
However, the current state of European diplomacy is such that each such remark should be analyzed, bearing in mind the professional and intellectual level of the speaker.
It is obvious that the phrase about “war with Russia”, said in the course of interactive communication with the deputies of the Bundestag, should not have been heard. Literally a day before Baerbock’s statement, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, commenting on the same “tank case”, repeated the mantra that the supply of heavy armored vehicles “does not make NATO countries a party to the conflict.”
Annalena Baerbock is also known for having once sent Russia to the moon (“what will be the consequences for a country next door to me or for a country that is hundreds of thousands of kilometers away?”).
However, the head of the German Foreign Ministry is not alone in her tongue-tied tongue. On January 25, speaking to the public, the head of the second nuclear power in the world, Joseph Biden , said the following: “The next package of assistance to Kiev will help counter the brutal Ukrainian aggression … which is happening because of Russia.”
A week before the events described, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, who had previously spoken of “victory on the battlefield,” urged Europe not to repeat the mistakes of Napoleon and Hitler:
“Russia is a big country, it is used to fighting to the end, it is used to almost losing, and then rebuilding everything. She did it to Napoleon, she did it to Hitler. It would be absurd to think that Russia lost the war or that its military is incompetent… Therefore, right now it is necessary to continue arming Ukraine.”
On Wednesday, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also made an iconic but much more meaningful statement. On the Fox 24 News podcast, he acknowledged that the Ukrainian military has been trained in the US for a very long time. “When I headed the CIA (2017-2018 – ed.), I visited the southeast of Ukraine many times, we helped their special forces in various ways,” he said.
This line goes well with Angela Merkel’s famous interview with Die Zeit on December 7 and François Hollande with The Kyiv Independent two weeks later. In them, we recall, the former heads of the two leading European states stated that the Minsk agreements, in which Germany and France acted as mediators, gave Ukraine time to prepare for the continuation of the military conflict in the east of the country.
Merkel, however, does not directly claim that she deliberately dragged out meaningless negotiations, while Hollande openly called the strengthening of Ukraine’s defense power “a merit of the Minsk agreements.”
In 2015, the German and French leaders really sought to freeze the conflict in order to somehow translate the problem into a political channel. However, they did not become truly neutral mediators: because they could not or because they did not want to, notes Pavel Timofeev, head of the sector of regional problems and conflicts at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations.
- Germany and France took the side of Kyiv and as a result did not become a source of a constructive solution to the Ukrainian crisis. However, it is incorrect to accuse these countries of directly preparing Ukraine for escalation, based on the available data. As for Hollande’s statement, it was caused by the need to support Ukraine, wishful thinking and trying to improve his image as a peacemaker, the expert believes.
In this context, it would not be out of place to recall how, on June 26, the then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, directly stated that his country would not allow Ukraine to conduct any negotiations with Russia. “Any attempt to resolve the conflict now will only lead to prolonged instability,” Johnson said.
To the slaughter
The above statements are seriously different from the replicated remark of Mrs. Annalena Baerbock or another slip of the tongue of the American president. These words are not a manifestation of the disorder of thought. Both Merkel and Hollande and Pompeo stated that the European powers and the United States were de facto leading Ukraine to escalation.
Of course, such sincerity gives Russia additional arguments in the discussion about the causes of the conflict. But only when the discussion takes place.
However, the self-disclosure of Merkel and Hollande is not perceived as such in the European information space. In Europe, no one condemned the ex-chancellor and ex-president for seven years of repeated lies. On the contrary, this statement naturally fits into the pan-European media background.
In this space, the “young Ukrainian democracy” is fighting against the “aggressive imperialism” of Russia and, what is important, it is exclusively winning. However, for a complete triumph, she lacks the Javellins, Caesars, and Leopards.The day after the decision to supply German tanks to Ukraine, the largest German publication Bild came out with the headline “These tanks save lives!”, And on the main page of the Daily Mail, the Ukrainian president is depicted with the words: “Now give us rockets!”.
In turn, the respectable Politico, Telegraph and Financial Times are already discussing the possibility of transferring F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv.
Merkel’s statement solves several problems at the same time, Yulia Melnikova, an expert at the Valdai Club and RIAC program manager, noted in an interview.
“Today in Germany, not everyone perceives the Merkel era as successful,” the interlocutor says. — Its foreign policy strategy is often criticized, including for the failure of its mediation efforts. In this way, the ex-chancellor is trying to stop the arguments of opponents about her indecision regarding Russia and level his own reputation and the image of the party, and also say: “We tried.”
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