The SPD wants to “freeze” the war in Ukraine, and Putin can reap the benefits of this

The SPD wants to “freeze” the war in Ukraine, and Putin can reap the benefits of this
The SPD wants to “freeze” the war in Ukraine, and Putin can reap the benefits of this
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Michael Roth calls it quits. The Social Democrats’ foreign specialist announced last week that he will quit after this term of government. The political company, the talk shows, the interviews, the hate mail… it has become too much for him. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he had been the leading advocate of arms to Kiev and could not understand why the government would not supply long-range Taurus missiles. Roth felt isolated in the party. “When I entered the party room, it felt like I was stepping into a refrigerator,” he told the magazine Stern.

Roth is one of the few SPD members who want to go all out with arms deliveries to Kiev and is a nuisance for his party. The decision on delivery rests with the chancellor, but he has still not given a convincing reason why the Taurus missiles remain in the warehouses.

Its in the genes

The parliamentary debate on the delivery of the long-range missiles may have been the deciding factor for Roth. In it, the powerful SPD faction chairman, Rolf Mützenich, posited that it was time to no longer just talk about the war, but also to think about how to freeze and end the war. He had not made a mistake, he had read his text neatly from the page. Since then, everyone has wondered what the SPD leader meant by the term “einfrieren” means. He was also not the only one in the party who thought this way. “We support his statement,” a faction member said Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The idea that there is also a diplomatic path is in the genes of our party.”

But what does the SPD want? Does she want Ukraine to give up the occupied territories? Does she want a ceasefire on Russian terms, as with the failed Minsk agreements? In the many talk shows in which the SPD leaders are asked for clarity, vague or irrelevant answers are given. They all say that Germany, after the US, provides the most support in absolute figures (relative to GDP, Germany gives less than Finland or the Baltic states) and that Berlin will not abandon Ukraine.

Friedenskanzler

Will the SPD remain the peace party it has always been? A month after the Russian invasion, co-chair Saskia Esken repeated the words of the late Helmut Schmidt: “Rather a hundred hours umsonst negotiate than shoot for a minute.” It was the SPD politicians Egon Bahr and Willy Brandt who came up with their idea of Walk through Trade laid the foundation for the policy of détente with the Soviet Union. And it was SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who did not want to support the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was nicknamed ‘Friedenskanzler’. The same Schröder, who, as a good friend of Russian President Putin, unsuccessfully presented himself as a mediator, supports the current position of the SPD.

Party members say that they hear on the street that the population is wondering whether there is an alternative to the war. “It is the responsibility of a government to gauge the mood in the country,” Martin Schulz, former president of the European Parliament, said last weekend. There are elections in three months and the party is doing poorly in the polls. The SPD is failing to capitalize on the social improvements it has implemented in this legislature and Scholz’s chancellor’s bonus appears to be meager. The Greens and the Liberals, who also hear on the street that residents fear an escalation, are trying to tell people that it is tough but necessary to prevent Putin from conquering Ukraine. The SPD wants to make it clear to them that the chancellor will protect them.

One man who must feel particularly uncomfortable is the SPD Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius. He is known to want to supply Taurus missiles. He himself would speak einfrieren don’t use it, he said. “We know from experience with Russian presidents that a war cannot be frozen quickly. This would only benefit Putin.” Not everyone is happy with that reaction. “Pistorius should be brought to justice,” was heard Stern at a party meeting.

Fatal statement

Five Social Democratic historians (a group around the authoritative professor Heinrich August Winkler) wrote a letter to the party board last Friday in which they called party leader Mützenich’s statement “fatal”. They believe that the Chancellor helps Putin if he draws “red lines” in advance and announces what he will certainly not do. They call the party’s arguments “arbitrary and often factually wrong.” They accuse the SPD of still not recognizing the mistakes of its Russia policy in recent decades.

The party has barely responded publicly to the letter. An opinion like any other, it sounds. Thomas Jäger, professor of international politics at the university in Cologne, calls it a missed opportunity in an interview with NTV. “The letter provided an opening to deepen the discussion within the party about policy towards Russia and Ukraine. But the faction is sending a clear signal: our path is the route that Mützenich has described.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: SPD freeze war Ukraine Putin reap benefits

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