AWhen Russian President Putin launched his illegal war against Ukraine at the end of February, it was not only a shock to politics and business. It suddenly became clear to the general public how threatened freedom, democracy, self-determination and all other values that make up our open society are. “What does freedom cost? On the future of international security policy”, was therefore the title of the discussion round to which the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS) and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had invited on Tuesday evening in Düsseldorf.
Former Bundestag President Norbert Lammert recalled that the turning point proclaimed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) a few days after the start of the Russian war of aggression had actually begun many years earlier. For far too long Germany did not want to accept fundamental changes. The turning point did not begin in February 2022, nor with the annexation of Crimea in 2014, but at the latest with the military intervention in Georgia in 2008, said Lammert, who is now chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Sarah Pagung, Russia and Eastern Europe expert from the German Council on Foreign Relations, expects the war in Ukraine to last for a long time. “We see that Russia is learning militarily from its past mistakes. And Ukraine will have difficulties in recapturing large areas of territory because the West is not supplying certain weapon systems.” Politicians must prepare the population for the fact that Ukraine needs military support in the long term. Because Moscow is counting on the fatigue of the West.
Putin is aiming for a democratic social order
For the past 30 years, Germany has lived under the illusion that its own security doesn’t actually cost anything. “We have to face the reality that this costs something militarily – keyword two percent target – but also economically. Because we have to structure our companies, our trade, also with a view to China, in such a way that we are less vulnerable.”
According to Jürgen Hardt, the foreign policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, there are still too many in Germany who believe that if you only give Putin what he asks, then he will give you peace of mind. Putin is not only aiming at Ukraine, but ultimately at the free, democratic social order of the West.
Nikolas Busse, the FAZ’s foreign policy editor, added that in recent years Germany has alienated many of its partners with its Russia policy. Chancellor Scholz provided the right keywords in his speech about the turn of the century. Now it is a question of the traffic light government also filling it with life.
Nils Wörmer, head of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation’s regional program Security Policy Dialogue East Africa, is convinced that it was a mistake to only rely on diplomatic solutions for many years, for example in Syria or Afghanistan. “We have to take all scenarios into account and also prepare to possibly fight out conflicts militarily until we meet again at the negotiating table.”
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