Ukraine invasion was revelation for Germany, says top German foreign aide

Ukraine invasion was revelation for Germany, says top German foreign aide

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was a revelation for Germany, as it was for the wider international system, and one that marked a radical shift in Germany, the German chancellor’s top foreign advisor has told the Delphi Economic Forum.

“We had a very strict policy of not delivering arms to zones of conflict, a restrictive arms exporting policy in general, but we are now, behind our American friends, the second biggest provider of military aid to Ukraine,” said Jens Plötner, foreign and security policy advisor to Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Plötner added that the government has just agreed a multi-year plan to deliver support to the country.

In conversation with Kathimerini Executive Editor Alexis Papahelas, Plötner also discussed criticism of German dependency on Russian gas, stating that it was not a decision taken lightly.

“The delivery by Russia was reliable even in periods of acute crisis. The impression was that we were not making any irresponsible bets,” he added.

He pointed out that the EU voted to continue importing Russian gas before deliveries stopped.

He also addressed claims that Germany was too soft on Russia, stating that there was a general effort for rapprochement with Putin’s government and efforts to reason it to a more positive policy.

“Failure does not mean it was not right to try”, he stated.

Plötner also spoke of the continuity in German foreign policy, which holds for the transition between former chancellor Angela Merkel to incumbent Olaf Scholz.

He also spoke of the future of Europe, stating that it must become more responsible for its security. However, he highlighted important pitfalls in this move forward including the veto power of EU members stating that one country could hold up the whole bloc.

“We can only stand together in admiration for the spirit of bravery and defense we see from the Ukrainians,” said Plotner, when asked to comment on the difficult situation on the ground within Ukraine.

The advisor mentioned that it is difficult right now to envision a peace deal that would satisfy both sides, suggesting that the paradigm that all wars end at the negotiating table may not be automatic and instead there is the risk of a stalemate agreement similar to the situation in Korea.

Plotner also discussed the possibility of “Ukraine fatigue” affecting the German public, stating that the way in which Scholz’s government approached the situation ensured that it garnered the broadest possible public support, around 70%.

He also believes that the current situation is more complex than the Cold War, with China and India being the most prominent examples of the new multipolarity.

“There is an automatic proximity with the United States, but there are also areas where we disagree”, said Plotner on the transatlantic relationship.

“It’s good news that so far despite the elections in Greece and Turkey we have not seen an increase in instability, in fact things have calmed down,” he said about Greek-Turkish relations. There will be newly mandated governments in Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus by the end of the year.

He pointed out that this is a good situation to push forward with increasing stability in the region.


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