Forum: Germany stands in solidarity with Ukraine and its people

While I do not question Straits Times global affairs correspondent Jonathan Eyal's right to present his views on current affairs in his opinion piece, "Policy paralysis in Germany over Ukraine" (May 10), I wonder to what extent he is presenting to his readers a sufficiently comprehensive picture.

Whether unintended or not, Mr Eyal seems to have missed certain key developments in recent German politics that might have led him to draw a different conclusion.

Immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a "time shift" in Germany's defence policy by reversing a longstanding policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones, which traced its roots back to the end of World War II. He also announced a massive boost in defence spending.

On April 28, the German Parliament, supported by an overwhelming majority of parliamentary deputies, agreed to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine.

In all these steps, the German federal government acted in close coordination with its partners from the European Union, Nato and Group of Seven.

Mr Eyal's observation that Chancellor Scholz in a speech delivered on the anniversary of the end of World War II "said absolutely nothing about the current suffering of the people of Ukraine" also comes as a surprise.

On the contrary, Mr Scholz did cover tragic events in Ukraine extensively to draw conclusions for German politics. Among other things, he expressed pain about "how today, at the heart of Europe, 77 years after the end of the Second World War, brutal violence is once again breaking the law. How Russia's army is slaughtering men, women and children in Ukraine, laying waste to towns and cities, even attacking those attempting to flee".

Germany continues to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and supports its brave people in their fight for freedom, peace and our collective European security order.

Christoph Hallier

Charge d'affaires ad interim

German Embassy Singapore


I am grateful for the German Charge d'affaires' thoughtful letter.

Throughout my commentary, I did not and never intended to imply that Germany did nothing for Ukraine. Instead, I argued that the German contribution was not commensurate with the country's importance.

Mr Hallier is absolutely right that the German Parliament approved on April 28 the delivery of heavy weapons. What he does not say is that this was precisely two months after the war started, and long after the initial offer of 5,000 helmets, as Ukraine was being invaded.

Mr Hallier is also right that Germany has allocated a large amount of cash to future weapon purchases. Yet he omits to say that a dispute is developing over the use of this money.

Finally, Mr Hallier expressed surprise that I have misinterpreted Chancellor Scholz's speech, and particularly his words of support for the plight of ordinary Ukrainians.

This is how a commentary published on May 8 in Der Spiegel, one of Germany's top news magazines, summed it up: "The large gap left by Scholz's speech is inappropriate. He said nothing about the brave struggle of the Ukrainians, nothing about the suffering of the people in Mariupol and elsewhere. How could it happen that he and his people forgot that in this important speech?"

Jonathan Eyal

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