Ukraine conflict: It only works with sanctions


Status: 01/27/2022 07:02 a.m

In the Ukraine crisis, NATO is challenged as rarely. Secretary General Stoltenberg’s proposal points in the right direction. And Germany? Should provide a more impactful contribution instead of helmets.

A comment by Helga Schmidt, ARD studio Brussels

Twenty years ago, at the height of detente between East and West, NATO plunged into a crisis of identity. Why the highly armored defense alliance? The issue was seriously debated as one Warsaw Pact country after another became a member of NATO, leaving a weakened and self-absorbed Russia. Surrounded only by a few last satellites.

Helga Schmidt
ARD studio Brussels

Democracy seemed to be on the rise, unstoppable, in the form of the rule of law and a market economy. And one day, even that didn’t seem illusory at all at the time, one day Russia might be one of them.

Today, twenty years later, NATO is challenged like rarely in its history. There is a serious threat of war in Europe, and from what we hear from the military experts, it is a realistic risk.

NATO invites Russia to talks

In this situation, the long-awaited response from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to the Kremlin’s demands came yesterday evening. She acted calm. “We are ready to listen to Russia’s concerns and have a real discussion,” Stoltenberg said.

Putin might take this seriously if there’s anything else on his radar besides conquering Ukraine. He could take up the offer of talks and negotiate with the West about a new security architecture in Europe. NATO invites Russia to do so while unequivocally giving a resounding no when it comes to demands for withdrawal from Eastern Europe.

German arms shipments would change nothing

Putin himself knows best that this request was completely unrealistic on his wish list. Now the question arises whether the no only provides him with the desired pretext for an attack. Nobody can say for sure at the moment – but it is relatively certain that the German arms deliveries, which have just been the subject of heated debate, would change absolutely nothing.

Even the massive American military aid couldn’t do it. Arms worth more than $2.5 billion have gone to Ukraine in just the last few years. The country’s security situation has not been able to change this significantly. Ukraine cannot stand up to the Russian army.

Serious economic sanctions expected

No one can seriously believe that German arms deliveries would change anything. But what the partners rightly expect from the federal government is a clear commitment to serious economic sanctions.

An immediate no to the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is part of this – not just in an emergency, as Chancellor Scholz admitted far too hesitantly. In an emergency, it’s too late. And a clear yes to Russia’s exclusion from international payment transactions – even if that would hit the German economy more than any other country in Europe.

Germany has to pay the price, because the trade freeze is the weapon that would really hit Russia’s elites and Putin’s treasury. 5000 helmets and a few rusted howitzers from NVA stocks rather not.

NATO and Ukraine Crisis: Brussels’ Response and Germany’s Contribution

Helga Schmidt, ARD Brussels, 27.1.2022 6:32 a.m

Editorial note

Comments always reflect the opinion of the respective author and not that of the editors.

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