“Putin’s ultimatum changes everything”: a letter from Ukrainian experts to the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany

by Ukrainian experts on foreign policy, originally published on eurointegration.com.ua

To the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany

Ms Annalena Baerbock

Dear Ms Minister,

We would like to congratulate you on your appointment to the new Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and wish you all the best in this position. We also wish to reach German-Ukrainian understanding and effective joint activities for peace on the basis of European values and the rule of law as soon as possible . 

After the solemn ceremony of Grosser Zapfenstreich, the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel was retired to the music of famous Ukrainian composer Dmytro Bortnyanskyi, it became known about one of the latest decisions of her government: veto on the supply of purely defensive weapons already paid by Ukraine through the NATO’s agency, namely anti-drone rifles and anti-sniper systems.

For eight years in a row, reports of the death of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been coming from the eastern borders of Ukraine, and permanent provocations are taking place near borders of our country. Russia has increased its military presence to unprecedented level, namely 94,000 troops with the latest weapons and equipment, ready to take part in full-scale invasion.

At the time of even greater tension and involvement in this conflict on the side of Russia’s illegitimate Belarusian government, former leadership of Germany denied Ukraine the right and opportunity to defend itself.

For many years, in response to each new blow from the Kremlin, Germany seemed to be turning the other’s cheek.

It seems that in exchange for access to energy raw materials and the Russian market, Germany is ready to act contrary to statements about the desire for peace in Ukraine.

All these years, despite formally supported by the Federal Republic of Germany international sanctions, high-tech equipment of German companies is supplied even to the occupied Crimea, where Russia is repressing Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists in the spirit of Stalin’s time.

The list of Kremlin prisoners in the occupied Crimea includes 121 Ukrainian citizens who have been imprisoned on falsified charges for their civil position. Despite appeals of Ukrainian human rights defenders and relatives of repressed to the government of Germany, resolution of the European Parliament, statement of Ukraine and the USA to the OSCE and the United Nations, Berlin continued to be insensitive to this problem, so not to annoy Moscow.  

Russia is increasing its presence in the region not only militarily but also politically, in fact, by conducting political and economic occupation of the part of Donbas. Amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, passporting of more than 600,000 citizens, involvement of residents of Donbass, which are not under control of Ukraine, in the Russian political life and elections testify about Moscow’s readiness to use the new “power to protect” its citizens in foreign territories. Unfortunately, these are progressive rational actions that need to be addressed immediately.

Moreover, despite aggressive actions of Russia against Ukraine, and earlier against Georgia, subversive activities of the Kremlin in Europe, German companies with the support of the former German government joined the anti-European project Nord Stream-2. It aims to supply gas bypassing Ukraine, as well as further dependence of Europe on the Russian authoritarian regime, weakening transatlantic relations.

The new government of Germany in the person of the Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck has finally acknowledged what has been obvious: the construction of Nord Stream 2 has been the “geopolitical mistake”. We also appreciate Your position, Ms. Minister, on preventing this project of Putin’s kleptocracy from being put into operation.

Putin’s ultimatum to the West changes everything.

Earlier, occupation and attempt of the illegal annexation of Crimea, Russian intervention in Donbas, as before Russian invasion of Georgia and refusal to withdraw troops from Moldova, were problems not worthy of attention happening on remote periphery of the continent inhabitants of the “old Europe”.

In proposals of the agreement on “security” published by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Putin encroached not only on Ukraine, Georgia or even the entire territory of the former Soviet Union. Russia has stated about “special interests” in the Balkans and Central Europe, even in some countries that have never been members of the Warsaw Pact.

One of the published points directly demands partial restriction of the sovereignty of countries that are already members of the European Union and NATO in interests of Russia.

Threats of the Belarusian Kremlin puppet Aleksander Lukashenko to close the gas and oil gate for the EU, thousands of migrants specially brought to Belarus storming the EU borders, many years of open information war not only with fake news, but also with the use of cyber weapons, brutal actions of Russian intelligence agents, who killed opponents of the Putin’s regime not only in London, Salisbury or Sofia, but also in the middle of the German capital, were not enough to make German politicians realize that Ukraine was only the intermediate goal in the Kremlin’s plans.

Russia made its main blow on political and economic elites of “old Europe”. The latter did not notice that the hybrid war is already being fought on the European territory for European money paid to the Kremlin for gas, oil and coal.

We hope that Putin’s ultimatum to the West will dispel this long-standing gloom. 

Today, when Russia has accumulated hundreds of thousands of troops and tens of thousands of military equipment on the eastern borders of Ukraine, when the threat of open military invasion into Ukraine is more real than ever, it is time to move from resolutions and declarations of “concern” to actions.

Worthy response to the Kremlin’s ultimatum is immediate military-technical assistance of Germany to Ukraine and suspension of Nord Stream-2.

It should happen not if Russia resorts to the new wave of aggression against Ukraine, but as a move to stop the project that contradicts energy security of the EU and achievement of ambitious climate goals.

We also draw your attention to the problem of Ukrainian citizens repressed by Putin’s regime in the occupied Crimea and deported to Russia. Any negotiation with the Kremlin must be preceded by the demand for full and unconditional release of political prisoners.

Finally, let us express our readiness to cooperate for the development of Ukrainian-German relations for the sake of lasting peace and security for all free peoples of Europe, but relieved of having to look back on Russia.

Best regards,  

Gennadiy Kurochka, co-founder of Ukraine Crisis Media Center

Mykhaylo Honchar, president of the Center for Global Studies Strategy XXI”

Hanna Hopko, National Interests Advocacy Network ANTS, head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Affairs (2014-2019)

Olga Ayvazovska, Chairman of the Board of the Civil Network OPORA

Olena Halushka, Member of the Board of the Anti-Corruption Action Center

Alyona Hetmanchuk, director of the Center New Europe

Olena Kravchenko, director of the ICO “Environment-People-Law”

Lesya Matviychuk, Chairman of the Board of the Center for Civil Liberties

Valeriy Kravchenko, director of the Center for International Security

Natalka Popovych, co-founder of Ukraine Crisis Media Center

Vasyl Myroshnychenko, director of Ukrainian-British City Club

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