On 24 February, as the tanks rolled over the Russo-Ukrainian border and missiles rained through the night sky, Putin declared his war of aggression against Ukraine. The days of appeasement are over, the veil was lifted. Putin came to conquer – not only Ukraine, but more broadly, also Europe. Putin has dragged the Western world into a systemic conflict between democracy and dictatorship, freedom and oppression, rule of law or rule by force.
Without the resolute support of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States from the early phases of the war, Ukraine may well have already fallen to Putin. A constant stream of military, financial, and humanitarian assistance from the, US, the UK, the EU and its Member States have given Ukrainians a fighting chance to save their country – and for Europe to save itself.
As a consequence of the brutal attack, Chancellor Scholz declared the Zeitenwende before the German Bundestag on 27 February. Germany had to rethink its traditional position not to deliver weapons to crisis areas. A full two months later, the Bundestag tasked the German government to supply Ukraine with heavy weaponry, and German weaponry has finally reached the Ukrainian front line. But this can only be a start. As the war drags on, support cannot succumb to doubt. We either support Ukraine with everything it needs, or we allow Russia to win. In a war that determines the future of our continent, we cannot waver.
We therefore call on the German government to take immediate action. This includes the swift authorisation of applications for delivery of weapons system from industry, encouraging our partners that require German authorisation for the export of weapons systems to come forward with applications, and to reactivate Leopard 1 tanks for delivery to Ukraine. We also encourage our colleagues in the German Bundestag to follow-up on their resolution of 28 April and insist on the immediate implementation of their demand to the government to deliver heavy weaponry.
We must not allow ourselves to fall prey to Putin’s games. This war is about strength and Putin does not understand any other language, especially not at the negotiating table. We either show united strength, or the war continues. Putin does not know any middle ground. The stronger our support to Ukraine, the faster we can end this war. Half-hearted support out of fear of Russian reprisal will only prolong human suffering and increase the economic fallout of the conflict.
To stand idly by whilst Russia is ravaging and destroying Ukraine, its people, and its history is akin to a surrender of European values. The moment to act has come, and Chancellor Scholz must do so now. If he does not, Germany, and Europe, will live on Putin’s terms. It is our choice in which direction the winds of change will blow, what kind of Zeitenwende we will live in.
MEP Petras Auštrevičius
MEP Viola von Cramon
MEP Michael Gahler
MEP Bernard Guetta
MEP Andrius Kubilius
MEP Nathalie Loiseau
MEP Juozas Olekas
MEP Radosław Sikorski
(Photo: Demonstration „Stopp russische Aggression – Frieden in Europa“, Köln, Roncalliplatz © Raimond Spekking)