Root cause of Ukraine conflict named by ex-German SPD leader
A veteran top German politician has said the West’s refusal to listen to Moscow’s concerns is one of the main causes of the current conflict in Ukraine. Oskar Lafontaine, who from 1995 until 1999 served as chair of the Social Democrats, accused the West of ignoring Russia’s security interests for years.
In an interview with left-wing newspaper Junge Welt published on Saturday, Lafontaine argued that “for a long time, we have been in a situation where Russia and China have been militarily encircled by the US.” The former SPD leader said Moscow had made it clear to NATO for 20 years that Ukraine should not become part of the military alliance – a scenario, which, according to Lafontaine, would mean US missiles deployed on the Ukraine-Russia border.
“These security interests were consistently ignored,” the politician said. And this was “one of the key reasons for the outbreak of the Ukraine war.”
Speaking of Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, the former SPD chair dismissed the argument that every country is free to decide what alliance to join.
“Everyone knows that the US would never accept Cuba’s accession to a military alliance with Russia, nor the deployment of Russian missiles on the US border with Mexico or Canada,” Lafontaine argued.
According to the German politician, Russia’s key concern in Ukraine is not NATO accession per se, but the prospect of missiles appearing on the border with minimal warning time.
Lafontaine broke down the Ukraine crisis into three key phases: firstly, NATO’s relentless eastern expansion, despite warnings from within the US that the strategy risked a conflict with Russia; secondly, President Putin’s “decision to invade Ukraine”; and thirdly, Joe Biden’s “war of attrition.”
The politician said America’s $40 billion dollar aid package for Ukraine, consisting mostly of weapons, is further “proof that the US does not want peace.”
“They want to weaken their rival Russia and say so quite openly,” he added.
Lafontaine, however, clarified that he condemns the war, “just like I condemn without any qualification all other wars that violate international law.”
The politician argued that further arms to Ukraine will prolong the war, meaning “yet more people will die.” He accused politicians in the West of thinking purely in the categories of ‘victory’ and ‘defeat,’ while ignoring the “most important” aspect, which is saving people’s lives.
According to Lafontaine, “those, who do not want more people to die, must be against any prolongation of the war, and consequently also against any weapons delivery.”
He criticized the argument that by providing military support to Kiev, the West is helping Ukraine defend itself, questioning why no one called for supporting “countries attacked by the US with deliveries of German weapons” in the past.
Speaking of Russia sanctions, Lafontaine claimed that they “are increasingly hurting people here at home – especially those with lower incomes, who can no longer pay their energy bills.”
We are shooting ourselves in the knee. The US is probably laughing at us, because they are hardly affected by the sanctions, they can sell their liquefied natural gas in Europe in bigger quantities and their defense industry is getting a lot of business.
The former SPD chair believes the current German leadership is in no position to work in the country’s own best interest, being nothing more than a “loyal vassal of the US.”
Lafontaine noted that the Green Party, which is part of the ruling coalition, has firmly entrenched itself in the role of the “extended arm of the US in the Bundestag” since the Yugoslav war. The party “supports every US decision when it comes to wars,” the politician said, adding that the Greens only pay attention to human rights violations when those happen in Russia or China.
The party’s current stance illustrates a radical transformation from a pacifist political force it once was. The Social Democratic Party, which the current Chancellor Olaf Scholz is a member of, too, has changed dramatically, according to its former chair, drifting away from its principles of peace, disarmament and social improvements.
Lafontaine reserved special criticism for the German press, which “is blind to the US war crimes” while offering a platform for warmongers.
The veteran German politician said that many in Germany feared that the “war will spread,” calling on the public to take to the streets in keeping with the tradition of the “peace movement of the 1980’s.”