Thousands of people joined the rally against the Russian aggression in Ukraine in Vilnius. Look how many white-red-white flags there are in the column! An absolute majority of Belarusians strongly oppose the war in Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/y0Qg5k6qN9
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) February 24, 2022
Waking up to a war in Europe was not what I expected today or anytime soon.
Not that it hadn’t become clear throughout the last weeks that the Russian President Putin was up to no good with his approach toward Ukraine. But I guess I had faith.
Faith in human reason, faith in the international community, and faith in my home country of Germany to put a halt to what was going on.
What seemed unthinkable for most of my life has become a reality: There is a war in Europe.
Now, I do not want you who reads this to feel offended by my emphasizing a war in Europe in this way. You might come from or live in a war zone and just wonder why this would be anything special. So, by no means do I want to relativise any other violent conflict in the world—none of them should be going on.
What strikes me of historical importance here and feels utterly confusing to me, is the ignorance and indifference I am witnessing across my government and all my fellow citizens—which is, of course, not to say that other Europeans are any more engaged.
But we are from Germany. We were at the center of the two world wars. Hardly anyone of us has no (great) grandparents who lived or fought through those wars. Hardly anyone of us has not had loss in their families due to this. The Berlin Wall fell just after I was born—and this is about how long people were still aware of how fragile the political situation in Europe was.
It is quite clear that we have forgotten that in the meantime.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine is not only about how Ukrainians are going to live in the future, but also about how Europeans are going to live in the future—roughly the words of the Ukrainian president, and what I believe to be quite accurate.
Our reaction, both as countries and as civilians does not reflect the urgency of this.
Germany is the largest European country and there is so much that we can do here—from providing emergency aid to the people of Ukraine to providing weapons to the Ukrainian Military Forces. We had been given notice that this was to come, yet we decided to keep our eyes shut. I suppose, mostly, because we are in dire dependency on Russian gas and that might bring us in a somewhat uncomfortable situation.
So, we are choosing to not protect and support a sovereign country under attack, because it might mean that our gas prices will rise or that we have to shut it down altogether for now in order to move the needle here?
I am not here to argue the political details of this conflict and where who stands for what reason. I feel that an escalation of this sort—a declaration of war—lets the details and intricacies fade quickly.
Our humanitarian duty is to assist Ukraine with all the aid we can provide.
This also includes choosing their safety over our discomfort.