Focus Inner Circle
16/03/2022

Emotions meet realpolitik

“We need concrete action, today and tomorrow! This is for Germany’s own good. If Ukraine falls, Putin will be hungry for more and then he’ll be able to play whatever game he wants. You too might find yourselves asking whether there are bunkers here to protect against the bombs.” Andriy Melnyk, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, voiced this prophesy at yesterday’s Focus Inner Circle at the PalaisPopulaire in Berlin. Guests were invited by Robert Schneider, Focus editor-in-chief, to take part in a debate entitled “Turning point – 20 days in which everything changed”. Andriy Melnyk was joined on the podium by Mario Czaja (Member of the Bundestag, CDU Secretary General), Robin Wagener (Member of the Bundestag, Green Party), military expert Gustav Gressel and human rights activist Oleksandra Bienert. The event was moderated by Franziska Reich, head of politics at Focus, and Gudrun Dometeit, Focus head of foreign correspondence.

Heated discussions on the war in Ukraine: politics, science, civil society and diplomacy

Several people called for the new traffic-light government to take a more active and coordinated approach to the pressing issues of the war and the strategy to combat Russia. What further measures will be taken with regard to sanctions, supplying weapons and Ukraine joining the EU? Melnyk believes that all those involved should be ashamed of how things have been handled thus far.


“The generals in the German Armed Forces still don’t think we have a chance. They say well done, brave Ukrainians. But you’re going to lose. It’s insulting. And humiliating. For my compatriots, for my people. That after 20 days of resistance, this is still how they gauge the situation and still they don’t send help. Here in political Berlin, they want to achieve the illusion of peace. As quickly as possible, no matter the cost. Cynically arguing that this will mean civilians don’t have to die. But people are dying and the government needs to take drastic action. You have to do something.”

Andriy Melnyk, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany



“I’m ashamed. Theoretically, much more could be done. But at the same time, you have to weigh things up and see what we can actually do. What would be the consequences? What further global escalations might that entail? I feel shame even though I know that we can’t always do what our hearts demand. What we do won’t be enough. We have succeeded in enacting an extremely strong package of European and transatlantic sanctions with wide-scale agreement. This is already taking effect, although it has yet to reach its full potential. But yes, we need to keep upping the ante to instigate and discontinue various mechanisms.”

Robin Wagener, Member of the Bundestag for the Green Party and chair of the German-Ukrainian parliamentary group



“It is shameful to say that we should give up. Russia has been waging war in Ukraine since 2014, and human rights violations have been occurring ever since. We are fighting for our freedom. But we are also fighting because our poets have been shot, our language has been forbidden. We don’t need fake peace in Ukraine. It is shameful to hear people tell us we can lay down our weapons. We won’t do that because we know what comes next. Civilians will be murdered. There is only one way, and that is for us for arm ourselves – with your help – and to fight back.”

Oleksandra Bienert, human rights activist


Military expert Gustav Gressel also calls for immediate support in the form of weapons supplies before the month is out and the Russian army increases its numbers.


“To me, the current calm isn’t just about the Russians regrouping and introducing further commands and coordination posts to bring order to the chaos in their own ranks. I believe that the first of April and the subsequent weeks will be crucial in the Russians bringing renewed vigour to their forces. Putin is certain to pile on the pressure again. But that certainly doesn’t mean that he will emerge victorious. If Ukraine survives the second wave without losing any significant territory, particularly around Kyiv and Kharkiv, then a jaded truce in Moscow may be on the cards. But we need to reach that point. We also need to see that the western lines of supply are working. They are all that Ukraine has left.”

Gustav Gressel, military expert


CDU Secretary General Mario Czaja strongly criticised the German government for the way it handles refugees.


“I expect the three government ministers responsible for the refugee issue to make it clear that we require a summit, that we are regulating refugee registration and the supplies they are receiving. When I hear a minister say that we are overstretched at 100,000 refugees, but Poland has already taken in 1.7 million people, then I say the problem must be solved this week and must not be pushed back any further.”

Mario Czaja, CDU Secretary General


 

Royalty-free images for editorial use are available on Flickr.

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