“Never again war” and “Russia is not our enemy”. There was unanimity on this both among the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated for peace in Berlin on February 27 and among those who took to the streets in Cologne on Rose Monday.
The chancellor, the foreign minister, and most speakers in the Bundestag also spoke of “Putin’s war” and of “Putin’s aggression” at Sunday’s special session of the Bundestag. The right message: Putin country is not Russia.
What is this war doing to us?
Every war changes society. After 1945, World War II led to a pacifist sentiment in Germany of “never again war.” This was true until recently. But Putin’s war has changed a lot of that – we are once again experiencing a turning point.
On the one hand, Putin is uniting Europeans who have often been at odds with each other, he is accelerating the German and European energy transition, and he may even be making some previous opponents of wind turbines think again.
Putin himself has buried his favorite project to date, Nord Stream 2. Nothing will come of it now. Nord Stream 2 has had to lay off all 140 employees. Even the hereditary enemies Turkey and Greece want to work together. They now have a common enemy.
Are arms deliveries really helpful?
On the other hand: Before this war, the vast majority of Germans wanted us not to supply weapons to the war zone – but now the equally vast majority of Germans are in favor of us supplying weapons to Ukraine as well. Understandable, but also really helpful? No one really knows. More weapons could also lead to a prolongation of the war and even more suffering. After all, the Russian military outnumbers the Ukrainian military by about ten to one.
What we see now on a daily basis: People in basements and bomb shelters, children in subway shafts, destroyed buildings, hundreds of thousands on the run, heart-rending suffering and immeasurable misery, war crimes and sheer terror. This touches, this causes rethinking, solidarity and willingness to help, but also hatred and anger. Hatred and anger that a single person and a few hundred of his beneficiaries, oligarchs and patrons can cause this catastrophe, simply because they want to.
Once again the people are the victims
The great peace demonstrations in 1983 against NATO rearmament and in 2003 against the war in Iraq were primarily directed against their own government. Now, however, the demonstrators’ anger is directed against a foreign dictator who is also lying to his own people and leading them into a war in which – as in any war – there can only be losers.
Even the threat of nuclear war is back. Such a war as we are facing now could totally destroy all life and the life-protecting climate. This Putinian threat can lead to a spiral of escalation. In a nuclear catastrophe, even medical doctors can no longer help us.
Can we at least hope for that?
In this situation, both NATO and Russia must now publicly rule out the use of nuclear bombs in the interest of mutual survival. This would probably also be the first step towards further negotiations. To achieve this is from now on the most important and first task of international diplomacy.
Open letter of Russian scientists in the face of war
Every day more and more people in Russia are revolting against this war. Already on the first day, February 24, more than 100 Russian scientists and science journalists protested against the war in an Open Letter. They wrote: “There is no reasonable justification for this war. Attempts to use the situation in the Donbas as a pretext for a military operation are not credible…By unleashing the war, Russia has condemned itself to international isolation, to the position of a pariah state…Let’s do science, not war.” Over 6,000 Russian physicians have now signed the Open Letter.
This courageous document teaches us that we must make a very clear distinction between Putin’s country and Russia. The director of the Russian State Theater CIM has just resigned from her job, declaring, “I don’t want to be in the service of a murderer and draw my salary from him.”
Perhaps the flawless democrat Gerhard Schröder has also read this justification and no longer wants to draw his additional income from the war chest of a flawless despot. After all, all five employees in Schröder’s Bundestag office have now parted company with their previous boss. The SPD has not yet had the courage to do so. Former Putin friend and Russian star singer Anna Netrebko says: “I want this war to stop and people to be able to live in peace. That’s what I hope for and that’s what I pray for.” The world star has canceled all planned concerts in the near future.
Thousands of journalists and booksellers, directors and actors, charities and bloggers, and athletes are now revolting against the Putin regime. This includes the daughter of Putin’s spokesman, Yelizaveta Peskova. She posted on her Instagram account, “No to war.”
Alexei Navalny, a Kremlin critic imprisoned in a prison camp, has called on his Russian compatriots, as well as the whole world, to protest against Putin’s war on Twitter: 7 p.m. every day and 2 p.m. on weekends. The decline of the GDR began similarly in 1989 with the Monday demonstrations. The courageous civil rights activist Nawalny , whom the Kremlin ruler tried to poison a year ago, is now calling on all of us to protest. He calls Putin a “mad tsar,” a danger to the whole world. And we should not be “frightened silencers” now, Navalny warns us as well: “Everything has its price. And now, in the spring of 2022, we must pay that price.”
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, imprisoned in a prison camp, has called on his Russian compatriots, as well as the entire world, to protest Putin’s war on Twitter: 7 p.m. every day and 2 p.m. on weekends. The decline of the GDR began similarly in 1989 with the Monday demonstrations. The courageous civil rights activist Nawalny , whom the Kremlin ruler tried to poison a year ago, is now calling on all of us to protest. He calls Putin a “mad tsar,” a danger to the whole world. And we should not be “frightened silencers” now, Navalny warns us as well: “Everything has its price. And now, in the spring of 2022, we must pay that price.”
One path to peace might also be for the three recognized religious leaders, the Dalai Lama, the pope and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril, to make a joint appeal for peace in Moscow and bring the two warring parties to the table for negotiations. The Pope has already met the Orthodox Patriarch three times, the Patriarch himself has a good relationship with Putin, and the Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Should basic supplies to the population of Kiev and other major Ukrainian cities collapse these days, the West should think of an airlift similar to the one to Berlin in 1948.
Ultimately, only the Russians themselves can solve their country’s social problems. There is a faint hope for that. For the time being! But perhaps Putin’s aggression is also the beginning of the end of his regime. Even the first oligarchs and multi-billionaires are turning away from Putin.