Supplying weapons to Ukraine
War is again raging on the European continent - a situation considered unthinkable just a few months ago. I am appalled and deeply saddened by atrocities such as the Butcha massacre or the destruction of Mariupol and strongly condemn Putin's unlawful invasion of Ukraine. Decades of peace in Europe ended abruptly with the Russian government's attack on Ukraine.
The Ukrainian army and population have shown impressive resilience since the outbreak of war at the end of February. The unity of the West and the EU member states is also a strong signal. At the same time, President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked for more robust international engagement. Apart from sanctions against the Russian government and other actors, the main issue now is the supply of heavy weapons. I was one of the first to call for arms deliveries to Ukraine after the war began. The German government's reticence on this issue was an apparent mistake. Especially at the beginning of the war, it became clear that international arms deliveries made before the Russian attack contributed decisively to Ukraine's ability to defend itself and significantly slowed down the Russian invasion. I welcome Chancellor Olaf Scholz's long-overdue decision to spend the agreed two per cent of GDP on defence in the future - a step that we as FREIE WÄHLER have long been calling for. At the same time, I criticise his continued hesitation in delivering heavy weapons. This reluctance is not only costing Ukraine valuable time in its self-defence but also us. Russia's war of aggression is also an attack against democracy and freedom in Europe. We must send a clear message to our international partners and live up to our responsibility. There must be no scenario in this war in which Putin emerges victorious. We must also ensure that the cost of war for Putin is so high that he does not invade a neighbour again or wage war in countries like Syria or on the African continent. In these times, Germany and the EU must place a much stronger focus on security and defence policy and strengthen and expand cooperation within the EU. Existing formats such as Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund provide an initial basis. The Strategic Compass recently adopted by the European Council also points in the right direction. This basic document contains goals which we, as FREIE WÄHLER, also pursue. These include expanding the EU's rapid reaction capacity and stronger cooperation at the bilateral level and between the EU and NATO.
Putin is a despot who only understands and accepts the language of power. Therefore, the EU must take a clear stand at the international level against the invasion by the Russian government, which is contrary to international law and shows no weakness. Only in this way can we credibly stand up for freedom and democracy and pursue a values-based foreign policy. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the reactions of other states. States like China will now look very closely at how the Western world reacts to Russia's violation of international law. Thus, the EU's reaction to Russia now also points to the role of the EU on the world stage in the future. We must not give in to a dictator here. It is our moral duty to show solidarity with Ukraine and to put a stop to autocrats and dictators.