Berlin has eased its restrictive arms export policy to supply Kyiv with lethal weapons, but frictions remain.
Brussels, Belgium – Throughout Russia’s war on Ukraine, Germany’s foreign, trade and security policy has been under the microscope.
The current German government – a coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats – has been repeatedly accused of adopting a relatively soft line towards Moscow, compared with its European and American allies.
The SPD and former German politicians and diplomats have also been recriminated for making historical mistakes in their dealings with Russia.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk accused the SPD of harbouring “Putin-friendly politics” and said in a tweet, “The SPD has not yet said goodbye to its inglorious past in Russia. One thing is to admit mistakes and another thing is to draw the right conclusions and act boldly today.”
Wolfgang Ischinger, former German ambassador to the United States, who also served as chairman of the Munich Security Conference from 2008 to 2022, explained that Germany’s Russia policy is rooted in history.
“After the end of World War II, a large group of Germans believed that if there is stability in the country today, it is because hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the Soviet Union left German territory without firing a single shot,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Many in Germany believe that the country owes a certain debt of gratitude to the Kremlin, in turn initiating economic and political partnerships with Russia.”