Ukraine has a special place in German media’s reporting. The US- defined pattern prevails at present. Russia is blamed for instigating the growing unrest in the south-east part of the country. The US State Secretary put forward such an accusation on April 8 saying there would be a heavy price to pay. The German Left Party is the only political force that recognizes Russia’s right to defend its interests.
Unlike the Left Party members, independent critics of Germany’s foreign policy are destitute of chances to make public appeals. The New Rhenish Newspaper (the Neue Rheinische Zeitung) was the only one to publish a letter signed by 200 representatives of German intelligensia. Russian media told about it (1), but the fact was largely ignored in Germany. At that, the Putin’s policy has significant support. According to the poll conducted at the beginning of April (2), around 49% (60% in the East) of respondents do not approve tough treatment of Russia, they support Germany’s role as a mediator between Russia and the West. 37% think the present policy is the one of a go-between, while 63% believe it has an obvious pro-US taint. German analysts try to explain the «mysterious sympathy» that Germans feel towards Russians… Liana Fix, an expert from the German Foreign Policy Society, defines the following reasons:
– the enrooted pacifism and skeptical view of NATO;
– dissatisfaction with the USA and the European Union;
– economic interest in cooperation with Russia;
– disapproval of the way German media paints the Russian President (3).
It’s hard to counter the reasons listed. Take the military aspect, for instance. True, Germans find a military solution or US interference into Ukrainian affairs unacceptable. Even such a limited measure as intensified air flights in Eastern Europe is supported by 40%, while 53% say «no». There is an even stronger opposition to the idea of Bundeswehr’s involvement: 61% reject it. The majority (56%) believe the NATO expansion to the East was a mistake. (4) The West’s protests over the concentration of Russian troops near the Ukraine’s borders are perceived as under-substantiated, the evidence produced not very convincing. In 2003 US Secretary of State Colin Powell resorted to tricks in order to convince the United Nations Security Council the US military intervention in Iraq was justified.
In view of public opinion and taking into consideration the realities of the situation in Ukraine, German media has somewhat cooled down the anti-Russian rhetoric. An ARD publication (5) called into doubt the Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office conclusions related to the snipers case. The authors of journalists’ investigation believe it is absurd to say that the shooting from the rooftop of hotel Ukraine could take place on Yanukovych’s orders, while the building was in the hands of Maidan protesters. According to International Republic Institute, a US research center, one third of the population in the East supports the ideas of federalization. Federalization is a familiar thing for Germans, they live in a federal state and they have gone through a long historic period of existence as separate countries. The German example proves that federalization and prosperity go hand in hand. German media was sympathetic towards those who are still inside the Kiev city hall building, but the author if the story (6) comes to conclusion those people have nowhere to go and need psychological help. The yesterday’s revolutionaries are not needed by the regime today; the author compares it with a shipwreck: they keep on saying about the desire to stay till the end but are not able to explain what the «end» actually means. Perhaps, the end they are talking about is to come after the election, when the authorities will start implementation of the austerity measures prescribed by the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Europe is not going to feed Ukrainian nationalists. Neither Germany, nor anybody else needs extra burdens. Speaking in parliament on April 8, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the events in Ukraine are a signal for implementation of reform in the European Union but it does not mean the EU should launch material aid as the revolutionaries expected while going to Maidan to fight for, as they perceived it, the «European choice». The author says the hopes of Maidan protesters were nothing but a naïve utopia.
What about the results of the coup, as Europeans see it? 10 years ago the European Commission defined the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) to surround the EU by a ring of secure and prosperous nations (well-governed countries, as they say). As we see it today, the stability in these countries is to large extent undermined; the EU has hotbeds and crisis stricken neighbors around the perimeter. Was it that the Brussels policy pursued the goal of sowing the seeds of chaos around under the slogans of good neighborhood? The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Germany has recently published a report Time to Reset the European Neighborhood Policy (7) which puts the EU neighboring countries into four risk categories: insignificant, low, medium and high. Listing Armenia and Israel as the states in the category of low risk is an iffy conclusion. So much the worse for other neighboring states once the expert believes the situation there is less stable than in Israel located in the volatile Middle East region.
I believe Europeans realize that the new EU Ukraine policy may end up in failure. It makes them view with caution what the new government in Kiev does. Europe faces a grave problem of refugee flows from Arab countries. Now there is a looming prospect of displaced persons waves hitting Europe from Ukraine. One of Ukraine’s «acting officials» Turchinov said Ukrainians would soon be able to travel across Europe without visas. There was no response from Germany, as in other cases concerning the aftermath of the coup called «Ukraine’s revolution» in the West. But Germans are not indifferent. Willy-nilly the events in Ukraine evoke parallels with the Germany’s own history – the tragic events of XX. A prominent nationalist murdered – is it not the repetition of the long knives night? The same mysterious arsons that Communists are blamed for are repeated as it was back then. For instance, Tyahnybok, the leader of Ukraine’s extreme right-forces – the Svoboda political party, said the Communists put on fire their own Kiev office on April 9. He never mentioned other interested parties, who could have done it, like the Lustration committee and the Chancellor Hundred of Maidan. Finally, the lustration bill approved by Rada (parliament) on April 8 to be signed into law by the acting President. The fact was ignored by German media. According to it, the judges, who took offices after 2010 (during the tenure of Yanukovych), must be fired. Every one of them! No exclusions from the rule. Others have to report on their incomes, including family members. In my case, it made me recall the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service that came into effect in Germany after Hitler came to power.