This is where the duplicity of many Western politicians and one-sided reporting media becomes apparent: If that many Russians leave their homeland because of the partial mobilization and their country is the sole culprit – why doesn’t Russia prevent them from leaving? Surely this could be put into practice relatively easily by closing the borders. Why are Russian draftees apparently able to escape unimpeded – something many Americans could not do to evade having to go to the murderous war in Vietnam?
Why does the West so blatantly apply double standards? How can the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, accuse Russia of ignoring UN values when his own country has so shamelessly and deliberately lied about weapons of mass destruction before the same body to justify an invasion of Iraq? As an American of all people, Blinken should be blushing up to his ears when he says something like that in public.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is touring the Gulf region these days to explore energy sources in replacement of lost Russian oil and natural gas, which has stopped flowing due to sanctions against Russia and could put Germany in even more dire straits over the winter.
The German chief diplomat’s first dialogue partner yesterday was Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince bin Salman – admittedly only after big uncle Biden from America made his first appearance there weeks ago. Anyone who actually assumes that figures like this Crown Prince including his country are less involved in crime than Putin and can even be a more reliable source of Germany’s energy shortage than Russia in the long run is playing with the safety of the German people and believes in Santa Claus. What a despicable double standard.
As a reminder, Saudi Arabia is one of the countries where Sharia law still applies, which means: oppression of women, especially when it comes to marrying off underage girls; application of inheritance and divorce laws in which a woman’s word counts for only half as much as that of a man. In the case of rape, the woman must name at least four eyewitnesses (!). Sharia also provides for punishments for theft and homosexuality, as well as for apostasy with floggings and amputations.
So, this is not just about the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, which the U.S. blames on the Saudi crown prince. But the people of Germany are officially being asked to make horrendous sacrifices because of the loss of Russian energy supplies, while their chancellor is begging for replacements from countries that are not a whit better than Putin’s Russia, especially since they themselves have been and are involved in many proxy wars that are solely about their very own interests in the name of profit.
The fact that they also go over dead bodies then no longer plays a role.
The invasion of Ukraine is not going the way Russia envisioned – but the thought of abandoning his plans is unbearable for Vladimir Putin. At stake is Ukraine, his security buffer to the West. The enormous American and European aid flowing there has made the military situation very precarious for the Russians, prompting their president now to order a partial mobilization of Russian forces. There is even talk of using tactical nuclear weapons. An escalation of the conflict to this extent would be a catastrophe for all of Europe.
Why did it have to come to this? Can the responsibility for this dire situation really be attributed solely to Russia? After all, it was they who started this war. A war, however, that has a long pre-history between Russians and Ukrainians, but also Europe.
At a time when everyone is talking about globalization, it is worth taking a look at recent history. During the Cold War, there were many situations that could have easily led to nuclear catastrophe. The two great powers, the USA and the communist Soviet Union, friends and allies against Hitler in the second half of the Second World War, fought proxy wars against each other virtually all over the world or even intervened directly, as the Americans did in Vietnam.
That was far away. But in the field of tension Europe, the Americans have never dared to act against the Soviets as they are now doing in Ukraine, right on Russia’s doorstep. When the Soviets tried to starve out West Berlin in 1948/49 by blocking the access routes in order to force the three Western powers to abandon the city, the Americans and the British flew non-stop missions via an air lift to Tempelhof to supply the population with all the necessities of life. Military action was out of the question for all sides, although the Soviets threatened it several times.
Four years later, when the workers’ uprising in the GDR took place and Soviet tanks rolled through East Berlin to crush it, the Americans watched in protest from a few hundred meters away but did not dare to intervene militarily. On August 13, 1961, when the East German communists sealed off West Berlin with barbed wire and construction of the Wall began, President John F. Kennedy was in Hyannis Port for a sail and did not want to be disturbed1. The West had known in advance what was going on with the approval of the Soviets – and did not intervene, even though there was a Berlin crisis team in the Washington State Department, set up long before.
Nor did the Americans lift a finger during the 1956 uprising in Hungary, which was put down particularly bloodily by invading Soviet troops; nor during the Prague Spring in 1968, nor in Poland in 1970 and 1981, when, by the way, Republican presidents were sitting in the White House.
These invaded states were all involuntary satellites of the Soviets and wanted to go their own independent ways, just like the Ukraine today. They were not involved in “real wars” with the Soviet Union, but at least the Soviets intervened militarily, and no one helped these countries at the time.
In a certain way, the West had accepted the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union, although there, too, the suffering of the population including politically motivated killings, imprisonments and deportations of hundreds of thousands of people were the order of the day. However, even because of all this, economic relations were never seriously questioned between the two power blocks, on the contrary. And in all these moments of world political dangers and wars, when everything was at stake, Russian natural gas and oil continued to flow not only to the Federal Republic of Germany and the former GDR, but to almost all of Western Europe during the Cold War and afterwards. Even the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 did not play a destructive role in this pattern of ongoing cooperation, apart from a boycott of the Olympic Games.
So, the question is: Why did the West interfere so massively in Ukraine’s affairs right after the Soviet Union fell apart in late 1991, when individual republics like Ukraine broke away from it and the Russian Federation under President Boris Yeltsin tried to see the West as a partner? What were the Bidens, Trumps and Giulianis and their stooges doing in Ukraine, where almost the entire upper stratum of society including governments were corrupt to the core? None of this looked like well-meaning intentions on the part of the West – more like a dangerous, creeping imperial expansion of its own sphere of power, as the Americans saw themselves as the general triumphant force after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Nevertheless, there is no justification for the war in Ukraine. However, if all accepted red lines from the Cold War era had not been crossed today, this war might not have happened.
1 A note on my own behalf: In view of the historical facts and as someone who was born in 1961 at the eastern interface of the Cold War, the question does not even arise to me to whom I owe my personal freedom. The courageous mass demonstrations in the GDR, which led to the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989, could have been put down by the Soviets just as they had been in 1953. Here, too, the Americans could only have watched, or rather had to watch, in order not to endanger world peace. I owe my freedom to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet party and state leader and his policy of glasnost and perestroika (openness and restructuring). – I emphasize this explicitly because I have heard many voices in America according to which the USA and Ronald Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall, although the latter was not even in office anymore at the time. It would be more correct to say that the Americans kept the path to this development open – but they could not bring it about themselves.
In the main German news yesterday (September 16), a commentary said that Russia is waging an economic war against Europe. This is now the usual choice of words in most of the media in my home country – not much better than elsewhere. But they know very well how untrue this phrasing is, for the sanctions have been initiated by the Europeans and the Americans as a reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while the responding Russia is accused by the German government of breach of treaty in trade relations.
In reality, the Europeans are shooting themselves in their own foot. What were they thinking the Russian reaction would be if the country was hit with one sanction package after another?
Anyone who trades with Russia does not at the same time make himself an accomplice in the Ukraine war. If this were true, then Germany – and not only Germany – would have been an accomplice in countless wars so many times. The Americans in particular have instigated so many wars of aggression that even German history cannot keep pace. But no Western European country, let alone Germany, has ever started an economic war because of this.
It is Germany that has to pay the highest price for the nonsensical sanctions, while the Americans rub their hands. Not only can they now sell their dirty fracking gas to Europe, but thanks to low energy prices and the discriminatory deregulation of workers’ rights in their own country, they will also become even more profitable as an industrial destination for companies from overseas. Whether the U.S. has a real interest in ending the war in Ukraine as soon as possible is at least open to doubt.
I hope for resistance from the German people not to let their own government rob them of their livelihood. It would not be the first time in our history that pressure from the street forces a government to resign or an entire system to collapse.
From my perspective, only non-violent protest can bring about a change to rationality, hopefully without playing into the hands of right-wing populists as in the USA. But the situation is not much better in many other countries: Millions of people in the developed world are susceptible to dangerous populist slogans because they have legitimate concerns and feel abandoned by politicians from moderate camps who are more intertwined with the interests of big business than actually contributing to a solution for the world’s pressing problems – such as man-made climate change – with the necessary resolve.
These are the consequences of a globalization that no one imagined 30 years ago.
The real reasons for the energy crisis in Europe do not lie in the alleged dependence on Russia, which many believe Germany in particular has maneuvered itself into.
For decades, the U.S. has placed itself in a seeming dependence on countries that were and are dictatorships, as in the case of oil, for example. Wherever business beckoned, the U.S. was there, no matter whether human rights have been trampled underfoot or not, no matter whether war or peace. But as soon as there were difficulties, they settled these problems in their own way: By intervening with their intelligence services to replace disagreeable governments with puppet regimes – and when that wasn’t enough, they used their own military to clean up the mess, as in the 1991 Gulf War.
The American people were sold this every time as a fight for freedom to preserve democracy and human rights around the world, and many bought into it, worshiping the main instrument of American imperialism and world control: “We love our military and are proud of it.” If there had been sanctions like the ones against Russia on the current scale every time, half the world would have had to impose sanctions on the USA – no matter whether it was about the murderous war in Vietnam or wars in Afghanistan and Iraq under pretexts like the lie about weapons of mass destruction.
To accuse Germany of having become too dependent on the Soviet Union and now on Russia for energy since the 1950s reveals one thing above all: the boundless hypocrisy of those who, in their immoderate greed, have had their fingers in the pie all over the world for geostrategic advantages and to enrich themselves and secure access to energy resources under the guise of fighting for freedom.
With regard to Russia and the nonsensical sanctions that hurt Germany more than almost any other country, the German government has given in to alliance pressure, especially from the Americans, and is now paying a very high price after initially refusing to supply weapons to Ukraine. It should have stayed that way, because it was the sensible move.
The Biden administration will miscalculate in the belief that it can bring the Russian colossus to its knees with a protracted war in Ukraine and billions in support in the form of war equipment. From the very beginning, since the breakaway from the disintegrated Soviet Union in 1991, the Americans have had their fingers in the game in the Ukraine.
If anyone was going to pay a price, it would have to be them.
It sounds like a staircase joke, but it’s not: Although the war between Russia and Ukraine has been raging for seven weeks, Ukraine continues to collect money from Russia for the transfer of natural gas through its country. Currently, this amounts to $1.2 billion annually.
At the same time, they accuse Germany and others of being dependent on Russian energy.
Yesterday, Germany decided to provide Ukraine with one billion Euros for military aid. Along the way, Germany is taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are immediately eligible for health insurance on a scale that not only most Ukrainians, but even U.S. citizens, can only dream of.
To be fair, it should not be forgotten that the Ukrainian leadership is not made up of innocent people – and never was. After the breakaway from the Soviet Union, they had great words about themselves, and now, after years of corruption, they are very demanding towards the West, as if acting like a bulwark against the aggressor Putin and thereby protecting Europe.
My country, Germany, should not send them weapons, because that will only prolong the war and possibly make the country a warring party, widening the conflict. But the international pressure is intense, as are the alliance obligations.
While a few in Europe and the USA are earning themselves silly from the production, use and stockpiling of weapons, it hits – as always – the suffering civilian population whose majority would like nothing more than to live in peace. But the dying in Ukraine continues – and who knows for how long.
Visiting a shelter for Ukrainian refugees today in Hannover, Lower Saxony, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) said every country in Europe must take in refugees. She added: “We must also bring people across the Atlantic.” Given the dramatic situation in Germany and the economic capability of the countries on the American continent, she could only have meant Canada and the USA.
The German Foreign Minister’s demand is more than justified. The refugees from Ukraine are clearly an overall responsibility of the West due to its misguided policies towards Russia in the 1990’s. In concrete terms, this means that all NATO countries should be required to accept refugees from Ukraine, as the Alliance as a whole has been moving its external border closer and closer to Russia since 1999, thereby unnecessarily provoking the country. Of course, this does not entitle Russia to the war in which it is now bogged down. But the disintegrating Soviet Union should have been treated more carefully by the West, instead of pushing it into the corner of a possibly Asian peripheral power via the American Wolfowitz Doctrine.
In the meantime, it has almost been forgotten that in 1990 there were even brief considerations of admitting the Soviet Union to NATO.
At that time, there were many opportunities to integrate Russia into European security structures based on reciprocity. These opportunities have been punitively squandered. A prudent policy by the West would have made this bonding possible under the acceptance not to impose Western-style democracy on Russia. Anyone who was able to observe the political upheavals in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980’s from close quarters knows that this is true.
Now the European Union expects ten million refugees from Ukraine – that would be a quarter of the country’s entire population. This represents an enormous social burden and at the same time an opportunity for the entire West, including the U.S., to show its true Christian commitment.
In 2015, Germany mastered the refugee crisis with flying colors – it is remarkable how a million people were integrated into what was already Europe’s most populous country. But now I am anything but optimistic. Special trains from Warsaw carrying Ukrainian refugees reach the German capital Berlin almost at hourly intervals. 10,000 people arrive here alone every day.
The solidarity of the local population still holds.
At Berlin’s main train station, numerous signs in Russian and Ukrainian warn young women in particular not to accept overnight offers from private individuals. Most refugees are women and children. If they do not register upon arrival, every trace is lost. The police patrol everywhere.
On the tarmac of Berlin-Tegel Airport, which was shut down in November 2020 and where my wife and I had landed just three years ago, an arrival center was opened where refugees are registered, cared for and then transported on to other federal states in Germany. The City of Leipzig has already signaled that it has reached its intake capacity.
The German government now assumes that one million refugees from Ukraine will end up in Germany, almost 300,000 of whom are already in the country. But this figure is vague, because no one knows how long the war will last. And it can hardly be assumed that most of the refugees want to return to their destroyed country.
By comparison, the U.S. is about 27 times larger than Germany, but it has barely four times as many inhabitants.
This is the largest movement of refugees in Europe since 1944/45, when 14 million people from the former German eastern territories were fleeing the approaching Soviet army at the end of World War II. One of them was my father from East Prussia.