An urgent appeal from Ukraine: the country now needs Germany’s full solidarity

Two promi­nent members of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment appeal to their col­leagues in the German Bun­destag to stand by Ukraine in the face of Russian threats of war.

We are doc­u­ment­ing a letter of Olek­sandr Merezhko and Ivanna Klym­push-Tsintsadze, the chair­man of the Rada Foreign Affairs Com­mit­tee and the chair­woman of the Com­mit­tee on Ukraine’s Euro­pean Inte­gra­tion, to the members of the German Bundestag.

They appeal to their German col­leagues to stand by Ukraine in the face of Russian threats of war. This includes a clear signal to the Kremlin that massive eco­nomic sanc­tions will follow in the event of a renewed attack on Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 and Russia’s exclu­sion from the SWIFT inter­na­tional payment system must not be excluded from this. This also includes strength­en­ing Ukraine’s defense capa­bil­i­ties to raise the thresh­old for a Russian attack. The deliv­ery of defen­sive weapons systems is covered by the right to self-defense enshrined in the UN Charter.

Among other activ­i­ties, the Center for Liberal Moder­nity is working as a men­tor­ing partner for Verk­hovna Rada deputies. The two com­mit­tee chairs of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment have asked us to forward the attached letter to their col­leagues in the German Bun­destag. Germany has a key role to play in the current crisis sit­u­a­tion. Our respon­si­bil­ity extends far beyond Ukraine. The future of the Euro­pean peace order is at stake.

Marieluise Beck & Ralf Fücks
Center for Liberal Moder­nity, Berlin

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Dear dis­tin­guished colleagues,

Recently we cel­e­brated 30 years since the resump­tion of offi­cial inter­state rela­tions between the Federal Repub­lic of Germany and Ukraine. They have been marked by dif­fer­ent periods, but have been seri­ously deep­ened over the last years, since 2014.

The inter-par­lia­men­tary track of our coop­er­a­tion has also played a special role in strength­en­ing our rela­tion­ship, namely build­ing trust and friendly rela­tions between our nations. We are looking forward to the cre­ation and start of the work of the German-Ukrain­ian friend­ship group in Bundestag.

We are taking this oppor­tu­nity to express our grat­i­tude for all the polit­i­cal and eco­nomic support Ukraine has received from Germany over these years in dif­fer­ent forms and formats.

However, chal­lenges and threats, that we are com­monly facing, have risen immensely over the last couple of months.

Latest massive Russian troop deploy­ment on the border with Ukraine, inten­sive Russia-Belarus mil­i­tary train­ings, growing aggres­sive rhetoric of Russian lead­er­ship, Russia’s secu­rity ulti­ma­tum, — all of these are requir­ing an acute and united response.

There is a real threat that Putin could launch a new attack on Ukraine via dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios: massive mil­i­tary strike from the East, North, and/​or South, from occu­pied Crimea; local mil­i­tary oper­a­tions; desta­bi­liza­tion of the sit­u­a­tion inside the country via hybrid instru­ments (from psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure, cyber-attacks, sub­ver­sive activ­i­ties to other means, includ­ing plot­ting to put pro-Kremlin leader in Kyiv).

With these actions, Kremlin wants to intim­i­date and attack not only Ukraine but the entire civ­i­lized world. With a spiral of a new esca­la­tion in the center of Europe Moscow expects con­ces­sions in rela­tion to its unfounded ulti­ma­tum demands to the West, which include the pro­vi­sion of NATO non-expan­sion guar­an­tees and “secu­rity guar­an­tees” to Russia.

The strangest thing in all this rhetoric and action is that the country, which has bla­tantly vio­lated inter­na­tional law and inter­na­tional oblig­a­tions, includ­ing the Budapest Mem­o­ran­dum, which attacked its neigh­bours, occu­pied part of their ter­ri­to­ries, killed thou­sands of civil­ians and mil­i­tary per­son­nel, pro­tect­ing their land, country which forced its own pass­ports on cit­i­zens on the occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries, which has been con­duct­ing infor­ma­tion pro­pa­ganda war against the West and its direct neigh­bours, which has used energy as a weapon, which has launched attacks on the free world via cyber-attacks, intru­sion in elec­toral processes, attempts, and assas­si­na­tions on the ter­ri­to­ries of Western coun­tries, dares to require “secu­rity guar­an­tees” for itself.

Ukraine has been resist­ing Russian aggres­sion for eight years now. Tens of thou­sands of dead and wounded, about 1.5mln inter­nally dis­placed people, ille­gally annexed and occu­pied Crimea, hos­til­i­ties in occu­pied Eastern part of Ukraine — this is the price we pay since 2014 for the desire to be free, to be demo­c­ra­tic, to trans­form and to choose our own path aspir­ing for mem­ber­ship in the Euro­pean Union and NATO.

We do not want war. We know by our own tragic expe­ri­ence that nothing is more harmful and fright­en­ing than when the mil­i­tary machines start fight­ing. We under­stand that Germany also remem­bers the war victims. This under­stand­ing of evil is uniting us. We remem­ber the Nazi occu­pa­tion with so many victims and the geno­cide of our Jewish pop­u­la­tion. We also remem­ber the times when Stalin‘s terror was ruling our people and the Great Famine — geno­cide against Ukraini­ans, which was delib­er­ately created by him, killing mil­lions of our ancestors.

We do want to live in peace with all our neigh­bors. We want to live in peace with Russia. We want that to happen on the basis of inter­na­tional law and full restora­tion of our ter­ri­to­r­ial integrity, sov­er­eignty, and independence.

But today we see that Putin is getting ready to make his troops march again in a new level of attack on us. Shall we have no chance to keep the Russian mil­i­tary to occupy our country?

You say „Never a war again“ and draw that as a con­clu­sion from your history.

What do you tell to people though, who are being attacked and did not start the fighting?

Pre­ven­tion of the war means that the aggres­sor takes the risk that he might not win. Pre­ven­tion might work if you are unrolling pre­ven­tive sanc­tions and if we are so well equipped and well skilled that risk is too high to even start a war.

Your gov­ern­ment unfor­tu­nately has decided not to help equip us, knowing well how much the Russian mil­i­tary has been mod­ern­ized over the last years.

We call on you, dear col­leagues-par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, not to share this approach. Do you really want to leave us badly equipped? Do you really think it is just and respon­si­ble to keep others from equip­ping us? What do you answer us, Ukraini­ans, who have to face the fact that the war is already there and new aggres­sion must be pre­vented? What do you say to us who are ready to defend our own land, but need your engage­ment and action in deter­ring the aggres­sor, as well as helping us to be fully pre­pared to fight?

We heard that you want to send us a mobile mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal. Being sin­cerely grate­ful for any support, we would like to under­stand — does that mean that you expect a war to come and that’s how you define effi­cient support to those who most likely will be attacked?

Inter­na­tional law allows the right to defend oneself. We are pre­pared to do that but do not see your government’s actions leaving us under­equipped mil­i­tar­ily as a real move of sol­idary and support.

You might argue that you want to prevent Russian attack by other means than mil­i­tary fight­ing. We totally share that wish.

But we saw you wel­com­ing and build­ing a North Stream‑2 gas line from Russia which makes gas deliv­ered through Ukraine unnec­es­sary and thus makes us more vul­ner­a­ble, more­over, this move also puts Euro­pean and German energy secu­rity at risk.

We hear both gov­ern­men­tal offi­cials and oppo­si­tion party leaders in Germany doubt­ing cutting Russia off SWIFT as an effi­cient sanc­tion, or being worried that this sanc­tion would harm Germany’s economy.

We remem­ber many of you cheer­ing us when we fought for our freedom on Maidan. Can you really bear leaving us alone when freedom as a basic right of human beings and nations is at stake?

It is crucial to under­stand, that Russian aggres­sion is a threat not only to Ukraine’s secu­rity but is a real threat to the safety of Europe as a whole. Your further pros­per­ity and secu­rity directly depend on the sur­vival of free, inde­pen­dent, demo­c­ra­tic Ukraine.

The threat of war can only be averted by joint efforts, includ­ing pre­ven­tive mea­sures towards the aggres­sor and direct and full support to the poten­tial victim, includ­ing the pro­vi­sion of defen­sive weapons. Only such a coher­ent approach might restrain the aggres­sor from reck­less actions.

A set of tools is at your dis­posal which could demon­strate the seri­ous­ness of the con­se­quences in case of Russia’s new wave of attack on Ukraine. They range from inter­na­tional iso­la­tion and Russia’s expul­sion from all inter­na­tional insti­tu­tions; from ter­mi­na­tion of eco­nomic, invest­ment, and finan­cial coop­er­a­tion, includ­ing dis­con­nec­tion from SWIFT; from refusal to import Russian hydro­car­bons, as well as raw mate­ri­als; to freez­ing Russian assets and impos­ing per­sonal sanc­tions against Putin’s inner circle.

Another pre­ven­tive measure is the strength­ened the defen­sive capac­ity of the Ukrain­ian army. Ukraine needs mil­i­tary-tech­ni­cal support from part­ners, includ­ing Germany. In this regard, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans can play a key role.

Ukraini­ans have been uphold­ing Western fore­front for 8 years with high resolve, dignity, and ded­i­ca­tion.  There­fore, it is regret­table for us to hear strange state­ments of some German offi­cials with regard to the future of ille­gally occu­pied Crimea, or the prospect of Ukraine’s mem­ber­ship in NATO, or refusal to help with weapons or even to pre­clude others from helping. All of these play along Russian pro­pa­ganda aimed at divid­ing Euro­pean and EuroAt­lantic com­mu­nity of nations, as well as under­min­ing bilat­eral rela­tions between our countries.

We hope that you, dear col­leagues, as Bun­destag members, will be ready to once again polit­i­cally re-assess the sit­u­a­tion and prevent pos­si­ble neg­a­tive con­se­quences in the future.

Taking this oppor­tu­nity, we would like to ask you to take the lead and act in adjust­ing accord­ingly German posi­tion, policy, and approach to living up to the geopo­lit­i­cal chal­lenge, sol­i­dar­ity, and responsibility.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said: «In the end, we will remem­ber not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. We hope, we will remem­ber and cherish the actions of our friends, includ­ing Germany.

It is impos­si­ble to achieve peace by appeas­ing the aggres­sor. It’s still not too late to change the approach. We do hope for your sol­i­dar­ity and support.

We express our full readi­ness to further deepen bilat­eral inter-par­lia­men­tary coop­er­a­tion and are looking forward to the con­tin­u­a­tion of the direct dia­logue with you.

Yours sin­cerely,

On behalf of members of the Com­mit­tee on Foreign Policy and Inter-Par­lia­men­tary Cooperation
Olek­sandr Merezhko 
Chair of the Com­mit­tee on Foreign Policy and Inter-Par­lia­men­tary Cooperation,
“Servant of the People” Party

On behalf of members of the Com­mit­tee on Ukraine’s Inte­gra­tion into the EU
Ivanna Klym­push-Tsintsadze
Chair of the Com­mit­tee on Ukraine’s Inte­gra­tion into the EU,
“Euro­pean Sol­i­dar­ity” Party

 

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