The invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops that started today came as a surprise to us too. The resignation is all the greater and it is difficult to put the first thoughts into words. With the military action, which is clearly to be condemned, the hope for a lasting peace order in Europe seems to have been shattered. In the snapshot, Russia is the aggressor. But wars don’t just fall out of the sky. Ultimately, the invasion of Ukraine is the sad result of a misguided policy of escalation by the West. Instead of seriously designing a lasting peace order, Russia was surrounded and humiliated. For a cornered, beaten dog to bite is tragic but also, in a way, predictable. If we are to prevent a world war, once the smoke clears, we must learn from those mistakes. Unfortunately, hopes are lower than ever.
Aggressive wars are to be rejected and condemned. Period. This also applies to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. However, it is also not very helpful to look at the invasion in isolation. After all, it was the foreshortening of history that helped escalate the situation in Ukraine to such an extent. Despite all the necessary criticism of Putin’s declaration of war, it must also be said that it is the provisional result of a long series of provocations by the West. One could say cynically that Putin has now jumped over the baton held out to him by the US and NATO hawks.
Let’s turn back the clock. Shortly after taking office, Vladimir Putin gave a remarkable speech in the Bundestag. He shook hands with the West to build a new, lasting peace order. The West knocked out Putin’s hand. NATO expanded eastward, the West supported regime change in Ukraine and actively supported their harsh anti-Russian course. Minsk II failed not only because of Russia, but above all because the West never put Ukraine under its reins. Instead of shaking hands with Russia, the proud country was humiliated. And now you are reaping the spoiled fruits of this policy. Champagne corks are sure to pop in Washington. Europe has never been more torn than it is today and a – hopefully only – cold war will shape the next few years, if not decades. The price for this will be paid first and foremost by ordinary people – in Ukraine, in Russia and also in the rest of Europe.
Events are too fresh to analyze coolly and rationally what the consequences of today will be. Emotions and impressions have to settle first. What is certain is that this is a pitch-black day for all of us. But as we all know, hope dies last. At some point the cannon thunder died away and somehow it had to go on. We can only hope that the recent events will not be viewed in isolation from their prehistory and that, in addition to the expected – and justified – criticism of Russia’s invasion, the opportunity will be taken to reflect on one’s own actions in a self-critical manner. Is that likely? Unfortunately not. Years of propaganda and agitations by the media have shifted the climate of debate. But here, too, hope dies last.