Germany’s government on Friday accused Russia of pouncing on a statement by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to twist it to the Kremlin’s own ends and reiterated that neither Germany nor NATO were parties to the war in Ukraine.
Baerbock had called for Western unity during a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Tuesday, saying, in English: “We are fighting a war against Russia, not against each other.”
NATO and Germany have emphasized that their support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s unprovoked invasion does not constitute participation in the war.
Berlin’s announcement on Wednesday that it would now, after long hesitation, supply Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine’s forces has, however, hardened Russia’s declared position that the West is waging war against it under the guise of assistance to Kyiv.
What were the reactions to Baerbock’s comment?
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in a post on her Telegram messaging channel cited by state TASS news agency on Wednesday, had portrayed Baerbock’s comment as proving that the West was waging a “premeditated war against Russia.”
But there was also criticism of Baerbock from conservative and far-right politicians in Germany.
Martin Huber, the general secretary of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union accused Baerbock of posing a danger to Germany.
“Annalena Baerbock is a massive security risk for our country,” he said, adding that anyone talking of German participation in the conflict could bring it about in reality.
The co-chair of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, Tino Chrupalla, called for the foreign minister to be removed from her post.
“With her unprofessional and imprudent behavior, the foreign minister is putting Germany’s existence in jeopardy,” he said.
What has the German government said?
A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said on Friday in Berlin that Baerbock’s statement had been made in the context of a discussion about the unified stance of the EU, G7 nations and NATO in opposition to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
“Russian propaganda is always seizing on statements, phrases, stances and attitudes of the German government and of our partners and twisting them to serve its own ends,” the spokesman said.
“Responding to this here is not worth it, in my opinion,” he said. “The one who is escalating here is Russia.”
Under international law, Germany is not a party to the conflict, he said: “It is in this context that the foreign minister must be understood.”
The German Embassy in Moscow also denied that Germany is a party to the conflict.
“Helping Ukraine … maintain the right to individual self-defense against Russia’s illegal war of aggression that is enshrined in the UN charter does not make Germany a warring party,” it said.
What is the German chancellor’s stance?
Chancellor Olaf Scholz also again insisted this week that Germany and its allies are not directly participating in the war despite the planned delivery of battle tanks to Kyiv.
Speaking to public broadcaster ZDF on Wednesday, Scholz said: “There must not be a war between Russia and NATO.”
It was partly concern that the Western military alliance could be drawn into the war in Ukraine that led Germany to delay its agreement to send the Leopard tanks.
Source : DW