In the SPD, they now sometimes remind you of the Nazi era. Wolfgang Schmidt, for example, the head of the chancellery. He recently said that anyone who wants to supply Western battle tanks to Ukraine suffers from “V2 syndrome”. The V2 was a rocket that Hitler used to kill peaceful people in Antwerp or London. Similar to Putin today in Kyiv. The trick with Schmidt: he did not attest the murderers of today a V2 syndrome, but those in Germany who want to help the victims.
Or Ralf Stegner, the brontosaurus among the pacifists of the SPD, who grew up with the dreams of peace of bygone eras and is a leading figure of the “Parliamentary Left” in his party. He recently tweeted that anyone who warned against a Russian “dictated peace” against Ukraine was using “Nazi neologisms”. Again the same message: If you want to help the Ukrainians too badly, you don’t have your inner Hitler under control. Putin couldn’t have said it better.
But now there is a woman in Berlin who is both thinking about Western tanks for Ukraine and constantly warning against a Russian dictated peace: Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Although Schmidt and Stegner were polite enough not to mention them by name in their puns, the SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich then closed the gap. Although he didn’t forge any Nazi metaphors, he did say on ZDF “that in the end it is important to strike a balance on the one hand between Ukraine’s right to self-defense and that of diplomacy”. Literally like that. That may sound confused, but it probably means that we need to negotiate more and that the Ukrainians want to defend themselves against Russia is overrated. This message, said Mützenich, “also goes to the Foreign Minister”. So Baerbock was involved.
Baerbock sweeps the pieces together
Mützenich left it open what good things could be achieved if “diplomacy” would finally have freed itself from the constraints of the “right of self-defence”. But Stegner helped here. He told the FAS that Germany had to exert more force on the Chinese and Indians so that they could bring Putin to his senses. In addition, one must talk about the protection of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhia, and one must allow the exchange of prisoners “discreetly behind closed doors”. The successful agreements with Russia on grain exports have shown that this is possible.
Friends of the foreign minister have now told the FAS what they think of all this. First of all, they say that Mützenich’s “weighing between diplomacy and support for Ukraine” is not only misleading but also “dangerous”. Of course you need both, diplomacy and self-defense, and of course Baerbock promotes both. And of course she is negotiating, exactly as Stegner demands, namely behind closed doors. In the case of Ukrainians, Poles and Balts, she initially had to “sweep up the shards that a blue-eyed discourse on Russia left behind for Germany’s reputation”.