By Konstantin Babkin
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
The Russian-German section of the Moscow Economic Club had
just held its meeting.
German participants included the former minister of economy
during the Schroeder administration Wolfgang Klement, the former Prime
Minister of Brandenburg Matthias Platzeck, and the former SPD leader and
Bundestag Deputy Adreas Lemmel, along with corporate leaders and many other
Our delegation likewise included Duma deputies, entrepreneurs,
There were 8 speakers on both sides. The dialogue was
interesting and fairly open. The presenters (and they all said the same thing, more
or less) spoke about how Russia and German had maintained good relations for
centuries, with great benefits to both sides. When we were set aside against
one another, it resulted in huge losses to both sides and the entire Europe.
Therefore cooperation must continue, regardless of political rhetoric.
There were differences in approach to the Ukrainian
question, in how we see the conflict end. Several Germans said that Russia
ought to close the border, stop supporting the separatists, in order for Kiev
to establish its authority over the entire territory of Ukraine. We tried to
explain that it’s impossible. Fully 40% of Russian families have relatives in
Ukraine, millions of Russians perceive what happens in Ukraine as if it were
happening in Russia. Millions of people living in Ukraine want to continue
using the Russian language, want the country to maintain the widest possible
ties to Russia. Kiev authorities are against it, and the people in the East
consider what happened in Kiev a year ago a coup d’etat, carried out with
Therefore even if Putin and other leaders stop supporting the
East, and instead support the Kiev-imposed blockade and allow the Kiev
authorities to crush their opponents with tanks, the problem will not
disappear. In a short time you will see new Strelkovs, Motorolas, and
Kozitsyns, they will gain the support of millions, and the conflict will
Therefore Ukraine needs federalization or confederalization.
Followed by a gradual re-establishment of economic relations, which will be
beneficial to all Ukrainians and Europeans. I don’t know if we got through to
them, but I believe we were to explain the most important things.
Here’s what I understood from the meeting or, more correctly,
what I had confirmed. The events in Ukraine are not all that important to the
Germans. For them, for example, the news from Greece and other “problem” EU
countries, are more important. The question for them is who will have to pay whom, who will
have to support whom. Therefore nobody is even considering the matter of
Ukraine joining the EU or rendering it any sizable financial assistance.
Germans had had enough fighting during their history, it
causes unpleasant memories, therefore Germany and, therefore, NATO, does not
want to provide military assistance to Ukraine. It was said that, according to
opinion surveys, more than 60% of Germans are against confrontation with and
sanctions against Russia, and believe that to clash and weaken relations, to
allow war to spread in Europe is an unaffordable luxury, because there will be
no beneficiaries of that conflict in Europe and therefore a peaceful resolution
must be found.
I think that with time we will find that resolution. But we
must not relax. Many thanks to the participants for an interesting event.
Konstantin Babkin is the leader of the Russian Business Party.