Top German officials disagree on ‘war with Putin’
Two federal ministers in the German government have offered mutually exclusive assessments over whether Germany is at war with Russia. The difference of opinion became obvious after health minister Karl Lauterbach claimed Berlin was a belligerent nation pitted against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Saturday, Lauterbach took to Twitter, inquiring: “Seriously: What on earth should kneeling before Putin bring now?”
“We are at war with Putin and not his psychotherapists,” the official went on.
He insisted that Germany’s focus should be on ensuring Ukraine’s victory on the battlefield.
According to Lauterbach, “whether Putin’s psyche can handle that is irrelevant.”
The tweet came in response to a suggestion made earlier by philosopher David Precht, who argued that individual NATO member states should give Russia guarantees that Ukraine will not join the military alliance. Precht suggested this would open the door to peace talks between Moscow and Kiev.
Defense minister Christine Lambrecht, however, was quick to qualify her colleague’s remark.
She reiterated that “it is completely clear – both for the German federal government and for the whole of NATO – we won’t become a war party.”
Appearing on Sunday on ARD news channel’s Report from Berlin program, Lambrecht stressed that not letting Germany be dragged into the Ukraine conflict has been Berlin’s guiding principle since the start of Russia’s offensive against its neighbor.
“And nothing has changed in that respect,” the minister added.
Following criticisms, Lauterbach clarified on Tuesday that he actually believes that Germany is “of course not a war party,” though it does stand “fully on the side of the Ukrainians,” including with regard to weapons shipments.
Incidentally, the country’s finance minister Christian Lindner has also used somewhat similar wording to Lauterbach’s.
On Friday, the official posted a tweet suggesting that Germany is currently in an “energy war” which calls for an “All-In strategy.” Lindner advocated extending the operational lives of all “available nuclear power plants” in the country to keep its economy afloat.
Russian officials, in turn, make a point of referring to the ongoing armed conflict with Ukraine as a “special military operation,” rather than a war.