Commenting on the trip of the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Olaf Scholz) to Lithuania, which took place against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, German journalists note the disappointment of Eastern European neighbors with Germany’s policy towards Moscow. At the same time, the arguments with which Scholz is trying to fend off criticism about the supply of weapons to the country under attack seem unconvincing to them.
Meanwhile, journalists unanimously recognize the decision to increase the number of Bundeswehr soldiers in the Baltic region as the right step.
FAZ: “We need to arm ourselves to protect a free Europe”
“Germany once considered itself a defender of the interests of Eastern Europe in the EU and NATO. However, due to its policy towards Russia over the past years, this image has been largely lost,” the newspaper’s columnist writes. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Nicholas Busse. In his opinion, Olaf Scholz’s trip to Lithuania showed especially clearly how great the distrust of Berlin is now on the part of Eastern European partners.
“It is not just a matter of tactics when leading politicians in the Baltic countries oppose negotiations with Putin. There is a response from historical experience that stronger European powers tend to do business with Moscow behind the backs of Eastern European states,” the author continues.
Noting that the Social Democratic Party of Germany, represented by Scholz, “has always been especially inclined towards this,” Busse stipulates that this, however, “is not only a German tradition.” “Macron’s demand not to humiliate Moscow may seem pragmatic far to the west. But in the east of the continent it sounds like a concession to Russian great power claims,” the journalist states.
Speaking about the arguments that Scholz used in Lithuania to repel the criticism of Eastern European partners, in particular, regarding the supply of weapons to Ukraine, Busse notes that in Germany these arguments are not considered convincing: “The statement that no one sent so many weapons to Ukraine , like Germany, depends on the perspective: if compared with Hungary, this is true, but if compared with the USA, then no.
Among other things, Scholz promised to increase the size of the NATO forward presence in Lithuania, which is based on the Bundeswehr, from a battalion to a brigade. “Given the threatening situation in the Baltics, this is the right signal, especially for Putin,” writes the FAZ observer. “It shows once again how important the investment package in the Bundeswehr in the amount of 100 billion euros is. Armament is not an end in itself, but a bitter necessity for defense of a free Europe“.
Merkur.de: “Scholz should learn from the Baltics”
Online edition browser Merkur.de Georg Anastasiadis (Georg Anastasiadis) bluntly calls the head of the German government “the chief of the most incapacitated army in the world.” From the Baltic countries, Scholz should “learn how to defend, and also understand that defense against an aggressor does not begin at one’s own borders,” he writes.
The journalist openly criticizes Berlin’s reaction to the war in Ukraine and, in his opinion, insufficient assistance country under attack: “They promised little, delivered almost nothing – this is the result of the work of the SPD-led government after a hundred days of war in Ukraine. And, it seems, it (Scholz. – Ed.) the party is the one where there are so many “understanding Putin” – he considers this a great patriotic feat of his chancellor.
Also goes to the ex-Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel), whom the author of the commentary calls “the ingenuous queen of the pipeline” (arglose Pipeline-Queen). “And at one time she did not show the slightest interest in the warnings of the Baltic countries about the danger of a military invasion from Russia,” recalls Anastasiadis.
“The German business model was simply too lucrative: buying cheap raw materials from one dictatorship (Russia) to sell products to another dictatorship (China) and enjoying security at the expense of NATO. Noxious questions or reminders were unwelcome,” he rages. However, Scholz will not be able to “sit out” the crisis, as his predecessor did, predicts Merkur.de columnist. This will not be allowed by the SPD partners in the ruling coalition, “who will not sit idly by watching how Putin’s military machine crushes the defenders of Donbass,” and Germany’s NATO partners are showing less and less tolerance towards Berlin, which has become an unreliable partner for them, the journalist is sure.
NOZ: “Little support for Kyiv – a lot of understanding for Putin”
From a newspaper columnist’s point of view Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung (NOZ) Tobias Schmidt, during his visit to Lithuania, Olaf Scholz had to face, first of all, the disappointment of the Lithuanians: “Too little support to Ukrainetoo much understanding for Putin – that’s the message that was more or less overtly delivered to Scholz in Vilnius.”
Commenting on the promise to increase the Bundeswehr contingent in Lithuania, the journalist points out: “Engagement is important, but it should be just the beginning. If Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to, he could cut off the Baltic countries from the rest of Europe in a matter of hours.” Therefore, at the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June, decisions should be made “that would turn the territory of the northeastern member countries of the alliance into a no-go zone for Putin,” he said.
Like his colleague at FAZ, Tobias Schmidt was under the impression that numerous phone conversations between Scholz and Putin “look like a policy of appeasement in the eyes of the countries located in the neighborhood of the ‘dictator’, as Putin is called here, and Scholz’s unwillingness to promise Ukraine the prospect of joining the EU is perceived as a historical mistake.”
Scholz should take this dissatisfaction seriously, the commenter warns: “The West has for years been unwilling to listen to the warnings of the Baltic states that Putin intends to invade Ukraine. It seems they can appreciate Putin better than Berlin.”