Robert Habeck, co-leader of German Green party, announced in late May that he would support the sale of defensive weapons to Ukraine. 

Habeck’s ties to Ukraine

Robert Habeck travelled to Ukraine for four days, May 23 to 27, at the invitation of Volodymyr Selenskyj, the Ukrainian President. Habeck travelled with Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, a member of the EU Committee on Foreign Affairs and Manuel Sarrazin, a federal parliament deputy. Meetings were held in Kyiv but the German delegates also travelled to eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told Ukrinform that Habeck’s visit is “a sign of support and solidarity with Ukraine,”. The party leader and president discussed the possibility of Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO, as well as the provision of defence weapons to Kyiv. 

As the conflict at the Russian-Ukrainian border goes into its seventh year, Kyiv is attempting to intensify its military dispatch. Russia has not revealed how many troops are currently occupying Crimea and along the border with Ukraine. But According to Ukrainian intelligence, there may be as many as 90 000 soldiers, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, told Dlf radio. The ambassador explained that for this reason, help is needed from the West. 

Support for the selling of defensive weapons

After having visited Ukraine, Habeck told Deutschlandfunk (article in German) that he supports the selling of weapons to Ukraine. He stated that Ukraine should be provided with defensive weapons to aid in the resistance against Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine. After talks with Selenskyj during his visit in late May, he affirmed: 

“From my point of view, it is hard for us to deny Ukraine weapons for defence, for self-defence”

-Robert Habeck

This statement received criticism from Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, but also from Habeck’s co-workers at the Green Party. The German Greens have consistently been pacifist when it comes to foreign policy and the supplying of arms to war zones. When questioned about his controversial stance, Habeck reiterated that the weapons provided to Ukraine’s capital would strictly be used for defensive purposes. 

The response

Heiko Maas, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Minister, speaks at the North Atlantic Council meeting. The meeting was held at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 1, 2021. 

Just a few days later, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs rejected any requests to deliver weapons to Ukraine. 

The main topic of the NATO foreign ministers meeting was the NATO 2030 strategy process. Russia was also discussed. Heiko Maas, the German Foreign Minister refused to allow Berlin to aid Ukraine through the provision of military weapons. At the meeting, he explained that Germany continues to provide support for Ukraine through diplomacy and bilateral aid.  

“I am convinced that the conflict can only be solved by political channels, and that should be clear to all involved,” he told reporters at a news conference in Berlin, “This remains the guiding principle of our engagement, and it won’t change—weapons deliveries don’t help in this.”

Western European powers like Berlin have long tried to solve the ongoing military conflict in a diplomatic manner. However, a political solution is not expected to come about any time soon. 

For more on Germany and Eastern Europe:

Germany Greens’ Annalena Baerbock Urges Tougher Stance on Russia, China

The On-Going Fight Against The Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Hailey Roop

Hailey is an undergraduate student at McGill University studying Economics and Environment. She is interested in addressing environmental and social issues through community engagement efforts. In her free time, she likes to explore the city of Montreal on foot or by bike!

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