Following Russian invasion of Ukraine, both Germany and EU are changing their policies - European Parliament Vice-President

  • 2022-03-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both the always reluctant Germany and the entire European Union (EU) are changing their policy in regards to engaging in military conflicts, Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament, told LETA.

"Because of our history, we had a doctrine that prevented the supply of weapons to the parties of conflicts. I think this policy - which by no means is throwing oil on fire - is no longer valid. A situation where it is quite clear who the aggressor is, who has absolutely no right to do what it is doing, and continues to lie and breaches all its obligations," said Barley.

She explained that Germany had already made certain exceptions, such as weapons supplies to the Kurdish peshmerga being attacked by the Islamic State, or the supply of arms to Israel that were not considered attack weapons. There has always been a heated debate in Germany about this, because you can never be sure whose hands these weapons will end up in after the end of the conflict.

Barley said people in Germany often have to be reminded of the Budapest Memorandum. "Ukraine had nuclear weapons. If it had retained these weapons, Russia would probably never have invaded. However, Ukraine abandoned its nuclear weapons because Russia, the United States and Britain guaranteed Ukraine's security. Russia signed a document that it would never attack Ukraine. When a state has given absolutely no reason to be attacked by anyone, the position in German foreign policy must change," the politician explained.

Another thing Putin did not want to achieve is Germany's decision to invest more in its armed forces.

"Because of our history, we have always been wary of spending heavily on the armed forces, as well as building a large and strong army. That did not mean we did not spend enough, but we did not spend well because our army is not in great shape right now. One thing Putin didn't want to achieve at all is that we are rebuilding our army to make it stronger. But we will need a lot of money. We have a strong economy and we will be able to invest a lot of money in defense, but this will not be easy," said Barley.

Asked about Germany's dependence on Russian gas supplies, Barley emphasized that Putin had not calculated properly in this regard as well: "Yes, Germany is indeed more dependent on Russian gas than other countries. But again, Putin has not calculated properly here as well. What is happening now will only force us to act faster, as we are currently in a transition process in regards to our energy policy. And this will mean that Russia will lose a lot of money because it will lose our market and also the influence it is trying to gain through this partial dependence on their supplies," she said.

She pointed out that Germany has long been criticized for the Nord Stream 2 project. But immediately after Putin recognized the independence of the two breakaway territories from Ukraine, the project was halted.

"I felt widespread support for such a move. The debate was more on SWIFT, but it's an extremely complicated matter. It should be noted that [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz is very reminiscent of Angela Merkel in this respect - she thinks everything over very carefully and only then makes decisions. I think this is not the worst habit for a leader," said the German politician.

She emphasized that the Germans were ready for change in the field of energy.

''We will invest even more in sustainable energy, which we have been doing for quite a while. At the same time, we have started construction of a liquefied gas terminal in northern Germany, so yes, we can import gas from other countries, and we do not need pipelines for that,'' she said.

"Now we will speed up this policy. In addition, people in Germany are saying that they are ready to turn the heating a few degrees lower and put on an extra piece of clothing instead. So we can get rid of fossil energy much faster than planned. And this is all thanks to Putin, who has not made the right calculations,'' she added.