The hypothesis that the Anglo-Saxon axis is pivotal to the proxy war in Ukraine against Russia is only partly true. Germany is actually Ukraine’s second largest arms supplier, after the United States, notes M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged a new arms package worth 700 million euros, including additional tanks, munitions and Patriot air defence systems at the Nato summit in Vilnius, putting Berlin, as he said, at the very forefront of military support for Ukraine.
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius stressed, “By doing this, we’re making a significant contribution to strengthening Ukraine’s staying power.” However, the pantomime playing out may have multiple motives.
Fundamentally, Germany’s motivation is traceable to the crushing defeat by the Red Army and has little to do with Ukraine as such. The Ukraine crisis has provided the context for accelerating Germany’s militarisation. Meanwhile, revanchist feelings are rearing their head and there is a “bipartisan consensus” between Germany’s leading centrist parties — CDU, SPD and Green Party — in this regard.
In an interview in the weekend, the CDU’s leading foreign and defence expert Roderich Kiesewetter (an ex-colonel who headed the Association of Reservists of the Bundeswehr from 2011 to 2016) suggested that if conditions warrant in the Ukraine situation, the Nato should consider to “cut off Kaliningrad from the Russian supply lines. We see how Putin reacts when he is under pressure.” Berlin is still smarting under the surrender of the ancient Prussian city of Königsberg in April 1945.
Evidently, Kiesewetter’s remarks show that nothing is forgotten or forgiven in Berlin even after 8 decades! Thus, Germany is the Biden Administration’s closest ally in the war against Russia. The German government has stated its understanding for the Biden administration’s controversial decision to supply Ukraine with cluster ammunition. The government spokesman commented in Berlin, “We are certain that our US friends did not make their decision lightly, to deliver this sort of munition.”
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier remarked, “In the current situation, one should not obstruct the USA.”
Coinciding with the NATO summit in Vilnius (July 11-12), Rheinmetal, the great 135-year old German arms manufacturing company, has disclosed that it is opening an armoured vehicle plant in western Ukraine at an undisclosed location in the next twelve weeks.
Germany has more than doubled the 2022 allocation of €2 billion for upgrading Ukraine’s armed forces. It now touches around €5.4 billion with further plans to increase to €10.5 billion.
Germany cannot be unaware that Ukraine has simply no hope on earth to defeat Russia militarily. Germany is playing the long game. It is creating equity in western Ukraine where it is not Russia but Poland that is its contender.
The Soviet victory in Ukraine in October 1944, the Red Army’s occupation of eastern Europe, and Allied diplomacy resulted in a redrawing of Poland’s western frontiers with Germany and Ukraine’s with Poland.
Simply put, with compensation of German territories in the west, Poland agreed to the cession of Volhynia and Galicia in western Ukraine; a mutual population exchange created for the first time in centuries a clear ethnic, as well as political, Polish-Ukrainian border.
It is entirely conceivable that the ongoing Ukraine war will radically change the territorial boundaries of Ukraine in the east and south. Possibly, it can re-open the post-World War 2 settlement with regard to western Ukraine as well. Russia has repeatedly warned that Poland aims to reverse the cession of Volhynia and Galicia in western Ukraine. Such a turn of events will most certainly bring to the fore the issue of the German territories that are part of Poland today.
Perhaps, it was in anticipation of turbulence ahead that last October Warsaw demanded WWII reparations from Berlin — an issue which Germany says was settled in 1990 — to the tune of €1.3 trillion.
Make no mistake about the importance of the Eastern border for German culture and politics. Indeed, there is always something volatile about a “handicapped” Great Power when a whole new intensity appears in political, economic and historical circumstances, which prompts those in power to turn ideas into reality, and revanchist and imperialistic discourses that were quietly but steadily streaming below the surface of the carefully considered diplomatic efforts begin to probe pan-nationalist expansion.
In retrospect, Germany’s — in particular, then foreign minister and current president Steinmeier’s — diabolical role to align Germany with the neo-Nazi elements during the regime change in Kiev in 2014 and the subsequent German perfidy in the implementation of the Minsk Agreement (“Steinmeier formula”), as admitted recently in February by former Chancellor Angela Merkel should not be forgotten.
Suffice to say, even as Russia is winning the Ukraine war, the concern of the German foreign policy makers once again faces the need to redefine what was German.