Cover Osteuropa 6-8/2022

In Osteuropa 6-8/2022

Ignorant of Ukraine
A Lesson from the German Politics

Sabine Adler

Deutsche Fassung


For a long time, many Germans sympathized with authoritarian Russia and shied away from Ukraine, which has been moulded by civil society. Representatives of this position were the Social Democrats security expert Egon Bahr and peace activist Erhard Eppler, as well as the former chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder. For decades, they advocated the maxim that peace was only possible in concert with, not against the Soviet Union or Russia. This became a guiding principle of the Federal Republic of Germany’s foreign policy. Fixated on Russia as a superpower, these politicians ignored Ukraine, subordinated its right to freedom and self-determination to the alleged security and stability interests of Moscow and Berlin, and clung to thinking in terms of spheres of influence. These positions have outlived their usefulness, as has the recipe for “change through trade”.

(Osteuropa 6-8/2022, pp. 159–166)