In an open letter, prominent figures have once again advocated a diplomatic end to the war in Ukraine. Their appeal is “ceasefire now!”. In doing so, they demonstrate their ignorance and twist history. Anyone who has been paying attention over the past few months will understand that Russia is not ready for an agreement.
Actually, it would be advisable to ignore the open letter “Armistice Now!”, because its content is so thin that it can hardly be argued about. However, since it was well received – more than 230,000 people called it up in “Der Zeit” and picked up by other media – it addresses the desire of many people for an end to the war and because a former, high-ranking adviser to the former Chancellor helped sign it it is necessary to deal with it. The simplicity contained in the dry words reflects the meager state of the security policy discussion in Germany.
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It was immediately noted that the signatories, in their call for a “ceasefire now”, do not offer any solution as to how this can be brought about. But this is an obviously superficial criticism. How should they? Those who do not have reliable operational and conflict-related intelligence – and these are only the leaders of a few states – are more likely to be accused of arrogance if they come up with a ready-made solution.
The fact that this criticism in particular was often taken up also reflects the meager state of the security policy discussion in Germany. Of course, every citizen is also entitled to formulate political demands – even if that is not the primary field of his or her expertise. This is how it is in democracies. It’s really embarrassing to have to mention that. A lot of criticism of the call went completely wrong.
What is much more serious is the poor judgment that the text speaks. The key paragraph of the document reads: “The international community must … do everything possible to create the conditions under which negotiations are even possible. This includes the statement that Western actors have no interest in continuing the war and will adapt their strategies accordingly.” This is a harsh accusation that Western states are currently “interested in continuing the war” and are pursuing corresponding strategies. So not only that they support Ukraine in its defense, but that the supporting states of Ukraine currently want to see this war continued in their own interest. Such distortions of the situation are currently being practiced in many places in Germany.
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The historical development proves otherwise. In the fall of 2021, the US informed the Chinese leadership of Russia’s possible impending attack on Ukraine, with the intention of persuading China to dissuade Russia. When that failed, the American government published parts of its findings in order to use public diplomacy to prevent Russia from doing so. At the same time, it was the German Chancellor and the French President in particular who traveled to Moscow to advise the Russian President against an attack.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Jäger has held the Chair for International Politics and Foreign Policy at the University of Cologne since 1999. His research focuses on international relations and American and German foreign policy.
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Days before the attack, President Macron and Chancellor Scholz publicly let President Putin lie to them that the troops around Ukraine would soon be withdrawn. There was no interest in the war in the West. And there is no interest in continuing it. However, there is an interest in preventing Russian aggression from becoming a political success. Anyone who describes this attitude as “interest in continuing the war” must not have understood the difference. Russia can cease hostilities in the next minute – and no Western state has an “interest in continuing the war”. But Russia is pursuing precisely this interest: to continue the fighting.
You may not have noticed President Putin’s justification for the war of annihilation against Ukraine, nor the statements that the “military special operation” is going according to plan. They must have overlooked the fact that Russia is indiscriminately attacking civilian targets and bombing cities to rubble. They must have missed the eleven million refugees. They cannot have taken into account that the Russian leadership is still talking about crushing the Nazi regime in Ukraine. They may not have noticed that the Russian leadership sees the West as an enemy who wants to humiliate and degrade Russia, so they do not see the “big western players” as mediators.
What else are they supposed to be? Ukrainian false flag actions, as Russia claims from time to time? They can neither include imperialist motives nor “ethnic legitimation” (there is no Ukraine) in their considerations. President Putin spoke about it at length.
Or Timofey Sergeytsef wrote in the state-owned newspaper RIA Novosti: “The denazification of Ukraine is at the same time its decolonization, which the Ukrainian people must understand as they begin to break free from the intoxication, temptation and dependence on the so-called European election .” By death from Russian weapons or strict re-education. Signatories could carry the phrase “It cannot be assumed that Putin does not want to negotiate” on a banner through Mariupol to measure it against reality.
The fact that war is being waged in Ukraine – which, by the way, is not encroaching on Russian territory for well-considered reasons of the supporting states – is solely due to the fact that Russia started this war. And the goal was always clearly stated: to annihilate and take over the Ukraine because – according to the Russian justification – the country has no right to exist and is only being promoted by the USA as an anti-Russian project. Ukraine is to be annexed to Russia, as is being done coldly with Belarus. Obviously, millions of Ukrainians who don’t want to submit to Russian imperialism don’t want that.
Where the signatories get the innocence from to claim that an understanding between Ukraine and Russia is currently possible is their secret, because they don’t provide a reason, not a single argument. In view of the demanding requirements, this is revealing. However, there is ample evidence that Russia is not willing to compromise. It’s quite a feat not wanting to perceive them. But the war also reveals that: there are different narratives in which one can live. Some coincide with the intersubjectively experienceable reality, some do not.