Julia Marich

Feb 21, 2023

I hesitated for a long time about whether I should write this article. It seemed unethical and too daring. But my attention was drawn by the lecture of political science professor Lucan Ahmad Way from the University of Toronto. He claims: “Europe has long appeased dictators with mutually beneficial trade.” The Western media has failed to report the complicity of several European countries with Russia that led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In Ukraine, this topic is often discussed in our media space. I remember the harsh statements of Andrii Melnyk, our ambassador to Germany. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Melnyk has sharply criticized German politicians, in particular, those of the highest rank.

For example, Melnyk repeatedly accused ex-chancellor Angela Merkel and the former foreign affairs minister and now German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier for, in his opinion, their politics of appeasement toward Moscow, which made possible Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Western politicians considered him unethical, rude and harsh. At that time, it seemed to me that it was some kind of geopolitical chess game. After all, Germany was the country that helped Ukrainian refugees.

It was hard for me to believe in any kind of friendship between Russia and Germany. In the Russian media there is often a narrative about the rotten West and sexual minorities. With this, they often frighten their citizens. Then, in one of his courses, Yale University historian Timothy Snyder said: “Before the full-scale invasion, Germany and Russia found a common language on the basis that, for both of them, Ukraine did not exist as a country. Thanks to this rhetoric, Germany and Russia have been talking about Ukraine without Ukraine for a long time.”

I remember our ambassador to Germany was surprised that almost nothing was mentioned about Ukraine as an independent country in German schoolbooks on world history. The same with the school curriculum in Russia. There we are all a single Kyivan Rus and a single Soviet Union. Forty million Ukrainians and 30 years of our independence mean nothing to them.

Prof. Way also claims there was an agreement between Germany and Russia to divide the heritage of the Second World War. Germany takes on the role of a careful student, who learned an important lesson from the war and apologized for its involvement. Russia takes on the role of victim and victor. However, I would like to point out that Ukraine had the greatest human losses during the Second World War. According to the research of Volodymyr Vyatrovych, head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, eight to 10 million Ukrainians died.

Attempts to integrate Russia with Western countries contributed to the invasion of Ukraine. This strengthened Putin’s belief that Europe would do nothing to punish Russia. Russia used the role of victim of the war to manipulate the European elite. Putin was friends with former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi. Since 2017, former Federal Chancellor of Germany Schroeder has been a member and chairman of the board of directors of Rosneft (Russia Oil Co.). He was last re-elected to the post of chairman in June 2021. Schroeder is also the chairman of the shareholder committee of Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which connects Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea, bypassing the existing pipeline through Ukraine.

In October, the head of Germany’s Cyber Security Council was fired due to ties to Russian intelligence services. In general, the Germans have gone to great lengths to avoid participating in the moderate sanctions called for in the West following Russia’s 2014 invasion. At the same time, the West showed incompetence in the run-up to a full-scale invasion and allowed disaster. Everything seemed simple: Germany had technologies, Russia had gas. Mutually beneficial co-operation. But there was one obstacle. Gas from Russia to Europe was transported through Ukraine.

In 2008, Russia began construction of the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which bypassed Ukraine. Our Minister of Environmental Protection, Lana Dzerkal, begged her fellow Europeans not to give permission for the construction of this gas pipeline. She claimed that after the construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed, Russia would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In one interview, our former president Yushchenko complained about Angela Merkel, who constantly delayed Ukraine’s accession to NATO. He said, “On the one hand, Europe gave us promises regarding NATO, on the other hand, it assured Russia that Ukraine would never be in NATO.” The longer this war lasts, the more new information emerges that convinces us Ukraine was first on Russia’s list but Poland and the Baltic countries are next.

Leopard colour fabric has recently become trendy in Ukraine. Even our mayor posted a photo on Facebook in a leopard jacket. He signed the photo: “Free the leopard.” Germany is delaying the transfer of German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, which we need so much, for a very long time. And a miracle happened. The first Leopards came to Ukraine, but not from Germany, but Canada. Ukraine sincerely thanks you, dear friends, for this support.  From all this, I admire even more ordinary people, the Ukrainian diaspora, citizens who felt the pain and tragedy of the Ukrainian people, supported us and forced their leaders to change their policy toward Ukraine. A low bow to you.

Julia Marich lives in Ivano-Frankvisk with her family and is a graduate of the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University.