Open Letter by 156 Experts on Eastern Europe and International Security to the German Government: Immediately Increase Berlin’s Support for Ukraine – New Eastern Europe


Russia’s illegal and open war of aggression against a peaceful neighbouring country, which began on February 24, 2022, sealed the failure of German and EU policies towards Russia over the past decades. These policies had been based on the hope that Russia’s increasingly obvious neo-imperial ambitions could be contained through a combination of intense diplomacy, multilateral agreements, and various business relationships. However, Russia’s continuous military presence in Moldova since 1992, its unconcealed expansion into Georgia since 2008 and into Ukraine since 2014, and further misconduct around the world had already shown this approach to be failing.

April 24, 2022 –
New Eastern Europe
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(This appeal follows up on an earlier German letter published with Zeit Online on January 14, 2022: https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2022-01/deutsche-russlandpolitik-korrektur-forderung-sicherheitspolitik/komplettansicht.)

Nevertheless, in 2015, one year after the beginning of Russia’s open occupation of Crimea and the start of its pseudo-civil war in Eastern Ukraine, Germany signed the agreement on the Nord Stream 2 underwater pipeline through the Baltic Sea. Had this pipeline started operating, it would have further reduced Russia’s dependence on Ukraine as a transit country, allowed Putin to act more freely in Eastern Europe, and made Germany even more reliant on Russia than before.

More resolute action by the EU in response to the start of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine already in 2014 may have prevented worse things from happening. East European EU and NATO members like Poland and the Baltic states repeatedly expressed concerns about their own security. They warned early on that Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin could not be trusted and needed to be dealt with far more realism. Instead, the EU’s approach to Russia’s increasingly authoritarian and aggressive government remained largely the same. Even several reckless attempts on the lives of former agents and regime critics, some on EU soil, and the continuing war in Ukraine’s East with its growing numbers of casualties did not lead to a fundamental change of course.

Over the past weeks, after thousands more people have lost their lives, after formerly vibrant Ukrainian cities have been devastated by shelling and airstrikes, and after Ukraine’s very existence as an independent country has come to be at stake, the catastrophic failure of Europe’s and Germany’s Russia policies has become all too obvious. Three days into the war, on February 27, 2022, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a drastic change in his government’s approach to Russia. He announced an “unprecedented” set of measures including banning Russian banks from SWIFT and sending lethal weapons to Ukraine.

This was a welcome change. In the following days, however, it turned out that the exclusion of Russian banks from SWIFT would be only partial. Worse, Germany and other EU member countries continue to buy vast quantities of Russian energy. This is in spite of the fact that Russia’s massive revenues from these exports help to finance Putin’s increasingly terrorist regime and his open war of conquest in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia’s army is resorting to tactics similar to those it used during the Second Chechen war from 1999-2009 and Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian civil since 2015: shelling and bombing of residential areas and civil infrastructure including hospitals, schools, and cemeteries; violation of agreements on humanitarian corridors; shooting of civilians trying to flee; as well as killing people in public spaces and building with mortars, missiles, and bombs.

There are additional, entirely new risks. The enormous number of refugees who have poured into the EU from Ukraine after only three weeks is unprecedented. Ukraine’s nuclear power plants (NPPs) and their surrounding infrastructure have turned into battlegrounds and objects of occupation. A war-related incident in one of these NPPs could, in a worst-case scenario, lead to consequences exceeding those of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Ukraine’s people are defending themselves and their country valiantly. Their heroic resistance has thwarted Russia’s initial invasion plan, increasing its costs and duration far beyond what the Kremlin had originally calculated. However, Ukraine has little time left to wait for the currently imposed Western sanctions to take effect. By insisting on continuing to import Russian oil and natural gas, the German government allows Russia to continue earning enormous income from its energy exports. It thereby prolongs the war and counteracts the West’s already adopted, in and of themselves imposing sanctions. Furthermore, this behaviour puts Berlin in conflict with the “historic responsibility” towards the countries of the former Soviet Union that Germans took upon themselves after having devastated Belarus and Ukraine in World War II.

Ukraine’s tragic and uncertain destiny should be reason enough for more intense engagement by Germany and the EU. Beyond that, not letting Putin succeed with his imperial revanchism is in all of Europe’s own vital interest. Trade and common prosperity can only thrive in a stable and peaceful environment. Allowing Putin to conquer Ukraine could lead to more aggression against other unembedded neighboring countries, like Moldova and Georgia, which would further destabilize the European continent.

German and EU policies towards Eastern Europe need to focus more sharply than hitherto on helping Ukraine to survive today, rather than taking measures likely to take effect only after weeks or months. Germany’s short-sighted egoism in Europe’s joint effort to withstand Putin’s aggression needs to stop. All available measures for raising this war’s price for the Russian Federation need to be taken now. They include:

  • Sanctions on all Russian banks and a complete ban of Russia from the SWIFT payment system;
  • A full stop on buying any oil, natural gas or other commodities from Russia;
  • Isolation of Russia and ban of Russian government members as well as elite members close to the regime from entering EU countries;
  • A seizure of funds and property belonging to Russian oligarchs or enterprises close to Putin’s regime;
  • An exclusion of Russia from all international sports, cultural events, and other social events;
  • Support for Ukraine’s economy, state, and defense;
  • Supply to Ukraine not only of light and defensive but also of heavy and certain offensive weapons, like larger anti-aircraft systems, suitable fighter planes, warships, military vehicles, etc.

Considering Russia’s open invasion of a peaceful country, her increasing war crimes, and a growing probability of similar aggressions by Moscow against other countries, Germany’s government needs to stop treating Putin as an ordinary negotiating partner. Peaceful coexistence with Putin’s regime can only be based on a robust combination of diplomacy with economic, political, and military strength. All possible measures short of direct military confrontation with Russia must be taken in order to punish, contain and eventually end Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Sanctions, once in place, can be lifted only after Russia’s full withdrawal from Ukrainian territory.

Signatories:

Dr. Felix Ackermann, Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute at Warsaw (DHIW), Poland

Dr. Hannes Adomeit, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK)

Dr. Vera Ammer, Member of the Board of Memorial International and of the Democratic Ukraine Initiative, Euskirchen

Dr. Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow, Stockholm Free World Forum, and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Dr. Martin Aust, Professor of East European History and Culture, University of Bonn

Adam Balcer, Program Director, The Jan Nowak Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe, Warsaw

Dr. Oesten Baller, Professor of Law and Chairman of the NGO German-Ukrainian School of Governance, Berlin

Dr. Omer Bartov, John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Brown University, Providence, RI

Dr. Jens Bastian, Senior Policy Advisor, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens

Marieluise Beck, State Secretary in 2002-2005, and Director for Central and Eastern Europe, Center for Liberal Modernity (LibMod), Berlin

Dr. Jan Claas Behrends, Senior Fellow at the Leibniz Center for Contemporary History (ZZF), Potsdam

Dr. Carl Bethke, Research Fellow at the Chair of East and Southeast European History, Leipzig University

Dr. Florian Bieber, Professor and Director of the Center for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz

Dr. Martina Bitunjac, Research Fellow at the Moses Mendelssohn Centre for European-Jewish Studies, University of Potsdam

Dr. Katrin Boeckh, Professor and Research Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg

Dr. Falk Bomsdorf, jurist, Head of the Moscow Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in 1993-2009, Munich

Dr. Jens Boysen, Professor of International Relations, Collegium Civitas, Warsaw

Dr. Karsten Brüggemann, Professor of Estonian and General History, University of Tallinn, Estonia

Dr. Agnieszka Bryc, Lecturer at the Chair for International Relations, Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń, Poland

Dr. John Connelly, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of European History, University of California at Berkeley, CA

Dr. Martin Dietze (co-initiator), publicist, President of the NGO German-Ukrainian Culture Society, Hamburg

Dr. Maria Domańska, Senior Fellow at the Russian Department, Centre of Eastern Studies (OSW), Warsaw

Steffen Dobbert, journalist and author of books including “Euromaidan: Protest and Civil Courage in Ukraine,” Berlin         

Dr. Benno Ennker, former Lecturer in Russian Culture and Social History, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Dr. Yuliya Erner, political scientist, Project Coordinator for the NGO German-Russian Exchange (DRA), Berlin

Dr. David Feest, Research Fellow at the Northeast Institute (IKGN), University of Hamburg

Dr. Björn M. Felder, Lecturer at the Institute of East European History and Applied Geography, Georg August University of Göttingen

Marco Fieber, journalist, and Chairman of the NGO Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights, Munich

Dr. Rory Finnin, Associate Professor of Ukrainian Studies and Fellow, Robinson College, University of Cambridge, England

Dr. Jörg Forbrig, Director for Central and Eastern Europe, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Berlin

Dr. Annette Freyberg-Inan, Professor of International Relations Theory, University of Amsterdam

Reinhard Frötschner, Assistant Editor at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg

Ralf Fücks, Co-Chair of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in 1997-2017, and Director of the Center for Liberal Modernity (LibMod), Berlin

Dr. Mischa Gabowitsch, sociologist and historian, Senior Research Fellow at the Einstein Forum, Potsdam

Dr. Kseniia Gatskova, Research Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg

Dr. Angelos Giannakopoulos, DAAD Associate Professor of German and European Studies, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine

Dr. Anke Giesen, Member of the Boards of Memorial International and Memorial Deutschland, Berlin

Dr. Josip Glaurdić, Associate Professor and Head of the Institute of Political Science, University of Luxembourg

Witold Gnauck, historian, Managing Director of the German-Polish Science Foundation, Frankfurt (Oder)

Dr. Jan Grabowski, Co-Founder of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research, and Professor of History, University of Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Jan T. Gross, former Professor of War and Society, Department of History, Princeton University, NJ

Dr. Gustav C. Gressel, Senior Policy Fellow at the Wider Europe Program, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin

Dr. Theocharis N. Grigoriadis, Associate Professor of Economics, Institute of Eastern Europe (OEI), Free University of Berlin

Ralph Hälbig, freelance journalist at ARTE & MDR, and operator of the website “Georgia & South Caucasus,” Leipzig

Dr. Imke Hansen, Vice Chairwoman of the NGO Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights, Severodonetsk & Hamburg

Rebecca Harms, MEP in 2004-2019, former Co-Chair of the EURO-NEST Parliamentary Assembly, Lüchow-Dannenberg

Ralf Haska, Foreign Pastor of the German Lutheran Church (EKD) in Kyiv 2009-2015, Marktleuthen

Dr. Guido Hausmann, Professor of History, Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg

Jakob Hauter, political scientist, doctoral student at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), University College London

Dr. Heidi Hein-Kircher, Department Head, Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe, Marburg

Dr. Richard Herzinger, freelance publicist, book author, and operator of the website “hold these truths,” Berlin

Dr. John-Paul Himka, former Professor of History, University of Alberta at Edmonton, Canada

Dr. Mieste Hotopp-Riecke, Director of the Institute for Caucasica-, Tatarica- and Turkestan Studies (ICATAT), Magdeburg

Dr. Hubertus F. Jahn, Professor of the History of Russia and the Caucasus, University of Cambridge, England

Dr. Sven Jaros, Research Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg

Wojciech Jakóbik, Editor in chief, BiznesAlert, Warsaw

Michał Kacewicz, journalist at Bielsat TV, Warsaw, and author of books including “Lukashenka: Dictator in the Belarus Kolkhoz”

Dr. Markus Kaiser, social scientist, President of the German-Kazakh University (DKU) of Almaty in 2015-2018, Konstanz

Dr. Anna Kaminsky, Director of the Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Eastern Germany, Berlin

Dr. Roger E. Kanet, former Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, & University of Miami, FL

Dr. Andreas Kappeler, former Professor at the Department of East European History, University of Vienna

Dr. Christian Kaunert, Professor of International Security, and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair, Dublin City University, Ireland

Dr. Sarah Kirchberger, Department Head at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK)

Nikolai Klimeniouk, journalist and Head of the Initiative Quorum Program at the NGO European Exchange, Berlin

Peter Koller, tourism agent and author of books including “Ukraine: Handbook for Individual Discoveries,” Berlin

Małgorzata Kopka-Piątek, Director of the European Program, Institute of Public Affairs (ISP), Warsaw

Dr. Viktor Krieger, book author, Research Fellow at the Bavarian Cultural Center of Germans from Russia, Nuremberg

Dr. Paweł Kowal, MP 2005-2009 & since 2019, MEP 2009-2014, Senior Research Fellow, College of Europe Natolin, Poland

Dr. Markus Krzoska, Associate Professor of East European History, Justus Liebig University of Giessen

Dr. Taras Kuzio, Professor of Political Science, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and Research Fellow, Henry Jackson Society, London

Veranika Laputska, Co-Founder of the Eurasian States in Transition Research (EAST) Center, Warsaw & Minsk

Dr. Agnieszka Legucka, Analyst at the Eastern Europe Program, Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw

Dr. Stephan Lehnstaedt, Professor for Holocaust Studies and Jewish Studies, Touro College, Berlin

Dr. Stefan Lehr, Research Fellow, Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe (BKGE), Oldenburg

Dr. Peter Oliver Loew, Director of the German Poland Institute, and Honorary Professor, Technical University of Darmstadt

Dr. John Lough, Associate Fellow of the Russia & Eurasia Program, Chatham House – Royal Institute of International Affairs, London

Edward Lucas, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), London & Washington, DC

Dr. Otto Luchterhand, former Professor of Public Law and East European Law, University of Hamburg

Dr. Robert Maier, Associate Fellow of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media (GEI), Braunschweig

Dr. Martin Malek, political scientist, author & editor of books including “The Military Doctrine and Marine Policy of the USSR,” Vienna

Dr. David R. Marples, Professor of Russian and East European History, University of Alberta at Edmonton, Canada

Markus Meckel, MP in 1990-2009, and Co-Chairman of the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation, Berlin

Dr. Stefan Meister, Head of the International Order & Democracy Program, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Berlin    

Stefan Melle, Executive Director of the NGO German-Russian Exchange (DRA), Berlin

Dr. Olaf Mertelsmann, Professor of East European History, University of Tartu, Estonia

Igor Mitchnik, Project Leader at the NGO Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights, Berlin

Dr. Georg Milbradt, Minister-President of Saxony in 2002-2008, & Professor of Economics, Dresden University of Technology

Dr. Johanna Möhring, Research Fellow at the Henry Kissinger Chair for Security and Strategic Studies, University of Bonn

Dr. Michael Moser, President of the International Association of Ukrainian Studies, & Professor of Slavonic Studies, University of Vienna

Dr. Alexander J. Motyl, Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University-Newark, NJ

Christoph Müller-Hofstede, Board Member of the Foundation for European Citizens’ Rights, Involvement and Trust (ECIT), Berlin

Dr. Jan Musekamp, DAAD Associate Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Norman M. Naimark, Robert & Florence McDonnell Professor of East European Studies, Stanford University, CA

Mattia Nelles, Member of the Forum for a New Security Policy of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin

Andrej Novak, political scientist, Co-Founder of the Alliance for a Free Democratic Russia (AFDR), Nuremberg

Dr. Julia Obertreis, Professor of Modern and East European History, Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Bartek Ostrowski, Vice-President of the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), Wrocław

Barbara von Ow-Freytag, political scientist, Member of the Board of the Prague Civil Society Centre

Dr. Tanja Penter, Professor of East European History, Ruprecht Karls University of Heidelberg

Ira Peter, journalist and former fellow of the German Culture Forum for Central and Eastern Europe, Mannheim

Dr. Andreas Petersen, Lecturer in History, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), Windisch

Dr. Hans-Christian Petersen, Professor of History, Institute for Migration Research & Intercultural Studies, Osnabrück University

Dr. Tilman Plath, Research Fellow at the Institute of History, University of Greifswald

Dr. Serhii Plokhy, Professor of History & Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Dr. Susanne Pocai, historian, book author, and administrator at the Faculty of Life Sciences, Humboldt University of Berlin

Ruprecht Polenz, MP in 1994-2013, President of the German Association for East European Studies (DGO), Münster

Dr. Detlev Preusse, political scientist, book author, and former Program Head at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Hamburg

Waleria Radziejowska-Hahn, Advisory Board Member and former Managing Director of the Lew Kopelew Forum, Cologne

Dr. Shimon Redlich, former Professor of History, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Sde Boker & Eliat

Adam Reichardt, Editor-in-Chief of the bimonthly magazine and web journal “New Eastern Europe” (NEE), Kraków

Dr. Iwona Reichardt, Member of the Board of the Jan Nowak Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe (KEW), Kraków

Dr. Oliver Reisner, Professor of European and Caucasian Studies, Ilia State University, Tbilisi

Dr. Felix Riefer (co-initiator), political scientist, book author, and Advisory Board Member of the Lew Kopelew Forum, Bonn

Christina Riek, translator-interpreter, Project Coordinator and Member of the Board of Memorial Deutschland, Berlin

Dr. Stefan Rohdewald, Professor of East and Southeast European History, Leipzig University

Dr. Malte Rolf, Professor of East European History, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Dr. Per Anders Rudling, Associate Professor of History and Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Lund University, Sweden

Dr. Sabine Rutar, Research Fellow, Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg

Dr. Yuliya von Saal, Researcher, Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ), Munich & Berlin

Dr. Tatjana Samostyan, Research Associate at the European Studies Program, Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg

Dr. Elisa Satjukow, Research Fellow at the Chair of East and Southeast European History, Leipzig University

Sebastian Schäffer, political scientist, Managing Director of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM), Vienna

Stefanie Schiffer, Chairwoman of the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), Berlin

Christian Matthias Schlaga, Germany’s Ambassador to Estonia in 2011 – 2015, and to Namibia in 2015-2019, Berlin

Dr. Oxana Schmies, historian, author and editor of books including “NATO’s Enlargement and Russia,” Berlin

Winfried Schneider-Deters, economist, and Head of the Kyiv Office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in 1995-2000, Heidelberg

Dr. Stephan Scholz, Associate Professor of History, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Dr. Wolfram Schrettl, former Professor of Economics at the Institute for East European Studies (OEI), Free University of Berlin

Dietmar Schulmeister, Chair of the Association of Germans from Russia in North Rhine-Westphalia, Dusseldorf

Werner Schulz, MP in 1990-2005, MEP in 2009-2014, former Vice-Chairman of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Kuhz

Dr. Steven Seegel, Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, University of Texas at Austin, TX

Dr. Klaus Segbers, former Professor of East European Studies & Center for Global Politics Director, Free University of Berlin

Radek Sikorski, MEP, Chairman of the EU-USA Delegation of the European Parliament, Brussels

Dr. Gerhard Simon, former Professor at the Department of East European History, University of Cologne

Dr. Maria Snegovaya, Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Dr. Timothy D. Snyder, Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Gen. Jarosław Stróżyk, Lecturer at the Institute of International Studies, University of Wrocław, Poland

Dr. Kai Struve, Associate Professor and Research Fellow at the Institute of History, University of Halle-Wittenberg

Dr. Ernst-Jörg von Studnitz, German Ambassador to the Russian Federation in 1995-2002, Königswinter

Dr. Sergej Sumlenny, political scientist, book author, and head of the Kyiv Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2015-2021, Berlin

Dr. Maximilian Terhalle, Lieutenant Colonel (res.), Visiting Professor at LSE IDEAS, London School of Economics and Political Science

Dr. Stefan Troebst, former Professor of East European Cultural History, Leipzig University

Dr. Frank Umbach, Head of Research at the European Cluster for Climate, Energy and Resource Security, University of Bonn

Dr. Andreas Umland (co-initiator), Analyst, Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies, Swedish Institute of International Affairs

Laurynas Vaičiūnas, Director of the Jan Nowak Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe (KEW), Wrocław

Edwin Warkentin, Head of the Cultural Office for Germans from Russia, Museum of Russian-German Cultural History, Detmold

Marcus Welsch, documentary films director and managing director of a seminar series on media competence in Ukraine, Berlin

Dr. Anna Veronika Wendland, Research Fellow at the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East-Central Europe, Marburg

Dr. Martina Winkler, Professor of Russian and East European History, Kiel University

Dr. Alexa von Winning, Research Fellow, Institute of East European History and Applied Geography, University of Tübingen

Dr. Klaus Wittmann, Brigadier General (ret.), Lecturer in Contemporary History, University of Potsdam

Dr. Alexander Wöll, Professor of Central and East European Culture and Literature, University of Potsdam

Dr. Susann Worschech, Research Fellow, Institute for European Studies, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)

Aleś Zarembiuk, Head of the Belarusian House – the Independent Belarusian Embassy in Warsaw

Agnieszka Zawadzka, Adjunct Lecturer in Polish at the Institute of Slavic Studies, Leipzig University

Dr. Steven J. Zipperstein, Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, Stanford University, CA


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Germany, Open letter, Ukraine at war



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